Nora Alicia Castaneda
Major - Political Science
Hometown - Yakima, Washington. Zacualpan, Nayrit, Mexico
“Dreaming is only part of success; the second part much hard work. And perseverance.”
My mother emigrated from Mexico and brought me along when I was six years old. I was born in Mexico but educated and raised on United States soil. My future aspirations are anchored here in the States. But my ties to Mexico are unbreakable. As Vivian Fel states, “I am the product or baby of two cultures.” Who says you cannot have both roots and wings? My roots are Latina. My wings are American. My educational journey has been a rollercoaster ride, it has had its ups and downs, but I keep moving forward. I was forced to abandon school and my family here in the States due to my immigration process in Mexico. I was in Mexico for nearly nine months. After what seemed like an eternity away from home, my dream of becoming a resident of the U.S has become a reality. I have returned with a suitcase not only full of hopes and dreams; but also full of determination to accomplish excellence. My ambtion to search for ways to fund my university expenses is what led me to this scholarship.
It is tormenting to realize that without the adequate financial support, attending a university can be inaccessible. Due to my family’s economic and financial strains, I cannot rely on them to pay for my educational expenses. My mother has taught me that while we are strong, when untied we must also learn to be independent and rely on ourselves. No one else will fight for my dream; no one else will protect it either. I am learning to be independent and to search for opportunities to help fund my education. This is why this scholarship has been very important to me. This leader scholarship has become part of my determination to continue to leap over any life hurdle that comes my way.
When I am not studying, I love to going to the gym to catch up on my workouts. I also really love to go on long afternoon walks. My passion, however, is dancing. In the last few years, I have learned that my ties to Mexico are and will always be, unbreakable. My spirit rises, and my hips naturally sway upon hearing cumbias, regetton and banda. I enjoy dancing to any type of music, although Latin music is my personal favorite.
I remember the day five years back when my mother and I first had our talk about my education and my future. We were on our drive back from Seattle from our yearly shopping spree. It was the summer before starting high school. To be honest, I was a little nervous and intimidated thinking how I was going to make it through eight periods a day without getting lost in such a big school. The music volume was slowly turned down, and my mother’s firm voice said to me, “A new chapter in your life book is about to start Mija, but listen, don’t you ever let anyone make you feel less than who you are. You have everything you need here (gently touching my forehead with her index finger) and here (bringing her finger to the left side of my chest, to my heart.)” I will carry my mother's words down whichever path life may lead me. I share these words with you now because they are who I am. I am now the girl furthering her education at a university.