After the Press Conference outside of the Alamo Monument in San Antonio, I had the nerve to approach Lorna Dee Cervantes. She had just given a moving speech about a conversation she had with one of her teachers when she was in High School. It went something like:
Teacher: “What do you want to do after High School?”
Lorna: “I want to go to college”
Teacher: “To what level?”
Lorna: “I want to get a PHD, I want to be a professor”
Teacher: “Don’t expect to get any acceptances, you’ll never go to college, you’ll never be a professor”
Now that’s some pretty rough dialogue, considering that Lorna’s High School teacher had made those malign comments simply based on the fact that Lorna was a Mexican-American girl in 1970’s San Jose, California. Lorna grew up to be the professor she longed to be, she also started her own publishing house, MANGO, which happened to be the first to publish Sandra Cisneros, the most commercially successful Latin@ author of our time.
I asked Lorna, what she had to say to the DREAmers who are having the same conversations with their high school teachers and the answers they hear are almost identical to the ones uttered by her teacher 40 years a go. She shook head, and tells me she knows, and that she feels for them and “to just keep on going, keep fighting to change and educate yourselves”.
I share with her my struggle to go to college, when I wasn’t getting into the universities I wanted, I decided to go to El Paso to learn how to be a community organizer while going to UTEP as an HB 1403 student. I told her how hard it was to complete my education after my mother got detained and my health suffered and then, I thanked her. Because if it wasn;t for her or women like her, I wouldn’t have had the example and courage to do as she said, to keep on fighting to change things and to be resourceful and make my own path.