I am the daughter of an immigrant. My story begins in California when my mother left my abusive, addict father. Thanks to an observant teacher at school, child protective services (CPS) became involved and gave my mother the option to stay with my father and lose us, or leave. She chose the latter which left her unemployed, and living with us kids in a shelter. My mother worked hard to learn English and find a job with the help of an amazingly kind social worker. My mother knew something had to change. We moved to Burien in 2000. It was then that I had a chance to see the welcoming and diverse community that I have come to love so much.
I attended school in the Highline district while my mother supported us working in cosmetology. Eventually, she opened her own salon and I would walk there after school and help. I look back at that time and realize that without the help of some amazing teachers in the Highline school district, it’s very possible my life would be very different today.
When I entered high school I fell in with the wrong crowd. I was an easy target, as these older kids soon realized I came from a broken family and that my mom wasn't home for the most part. She had to work hard being a single mother trying to give her children a better life. I was victimized and some horrible things happened to me. When my mother found out what had happened and the danger I was still in, we left for Mexico. For a year and a half, we lived in a tiny shack that somehow managed to survive every single hurricane. It was here that I came to understand financial hardship first hand.