Life for my parents was never easy. Growing up in Mexico, their biggest dream was to continue their education and grow out of the impoverished lives they were living. However, my father was forced to leave school at the age of 10 to help his father with his farming job. My mother had to leave school at age 13. Both knew that their dreams of getting an education had evaporated. As teenagers, my parents came to the United States individually and without their families. They met in the United States and married. They both wanted to improve the quality of their life, and they wanted their children to have a future with opportunity.
They became U.S. citizens, and both my mom and dad worked long shifts at a pizzeria. It was a struggle to earn enough money to pay for a place to live and to put food on the table for their four children. However, the importance of education was always central to them and they were willing to sacrifice.
I started preschool without knowing any English. In grade school, I was the student who was pulled out of class to receive remedial help. I was the student who performed well below average and didn’t seem to grasp the topics that were taught. When homework was too difficult or I did not understand the instructions, I could not rely on the help of my parents who could not speak English.
As a child, I always viewed my parent’s inability to help as a nuisance. Looking back, it was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I learned how to do things on my own, without depending on anyone’s help. I learned to problem solve and, most importantly, I learned the importance of effort, hard work and paying attention. In seventh grade, I realized that I didn’t have to be the student who was presumed to be so inadequate. With the help of God and with my strong desire to show my parents that their work was not in vain, I started to change.
I knew that I wanted to attend a college prep high school. My plan was to go to Creighton Prep since I thought it was a co-ed school. I soon found out that it would be impossible for me to go to Prep for obvious reasons. Then I heard about Marian…similar to Creighton Prep but for girls. I knew that I wanted to attend Marian and that I would do whatever it took to get there. I was told that Marian would be very rigorous and that I probably would not succeed. Despite all of the reasons NOT to attend Marian, I knew that, as a first-generation student, I needed to do everything possible to prepare for college and my ultimate dream of medical school.
My desire to attend Marian was so strong that I was the one who emailed the director of admissions to request the opportunity to shadow. I was the one who woke my parents on the morning of the placement exam and rushed them so I could arrive on time.
Even though I had started to earn As in junior high, my older brother told me that I was bound to receive Bs and Cs. In my time at Marian, I morphed into a student who treasures education, a student who is bilingual, a student who is enrolled in six honors classes, and who has received straight As in every class, a student who took an AP test as a freshman and scored high enough to receive college credit.
My parents could never have afforded to send me to Marian without tuition assistance. Part of that financial help requires me to have a work-study job at Marian, which I am very happy to do as it provides me an opportunity to pay Marian back!
Marian has given me the chance to meet amazing, hardworking, and talented friends who inspire me to do my very best and become a better person. I have had incredible teachers who encourage me to get out of my comfort zone and take challenging classes that will prepare me for the next level. I have had a guidance counselor who answers all my questions and who lets me know of opportunities to prepare me for getting accepted into an Ivy League school. I am setting my sights on Princeton.
You have an opportunity to support tuition assistance and change the life trajectory of many students like me. Thank you for making a difference.
To support Marian students like Dianna, please consider a gift to the Marian Fund at marianhighschool.net/donate-today.