Grade Level: 9-12
Student: Yahaira Mondragon
Teacher: Janet Creech
Chapter: Sequoia District TA
César Chávez was a man with great self determination, who not only motivated himself to fight for what he believed in, but also gave others the motivation they needed to strive for what they wanted and made them understand that with a good education anything is possible. César Chávez knew that education was power, so he encouraged his people to see the value in having their children receive a good education, and he protected their rights to do so.
Growing up Chávez did not enjoy going to school because he was moving so often he never got the chance to make many friends. He and his brother attended thirty-seven schools in total. He also disliked school because he was not allowed to speak his native language: Spanish. If he was caught speaking Spanish he would be hit with a ruler across his knuckles as a punishment. Chávez was only able to attend school up to the eighth grade because his father was in an accident that left him unable to work in the fields. He had no choice but to drop out of school in order to support his family. It was not until later that he realized that with a good education anyone can achieve their goals.
Many times when someone is new to a country and they don’t fit in, they feel discouraged to establish themselves in their new home, and therefore they don’t try to make the best of it. For example, the immigrants who came from Mexico spoke very little to no English at all, this made it extremely difficult to communicate in a place so different from their home land. The immigrants were easy targets for business and farm owners to make them work for little pay. They were brainwashed into thinking that farm work was as good as they could do in this country because they were not born in the United States. But Chávez knew that even immigrants were capable of anything they set their minds to. He let them know that they could accomplish anything they put their minds to. All they needed to do was get an education to achieve their goals.
César Chávez gave many Mexican Americans the motivation they needed to look for the opportunities to get an education. For instance, my mother came from Mexico to the United States with my older sister who, at the time, was only two years old. She spoke no English and had barely enough money to support my sister and herself. She had no idea how she was going to support her small family with only a high school education and no work experience. One day she heard César Chávez give a speech about the power of education and was touched by his inspiring words. She finally felt like she could become anything she desired, even though she was an immigrant from Mexico. Soon after, she was motivated to make something out of herself and decided to go to college. She studied, got good grades, and began to improve on her English. She knew that if she kept trying hard enough she would be able to get the career she wanted. Like my mother, many other Mexicans were moved by his words.
My mother now owns her own beauty salon, three houses in Redwood City and five in Mexico. She is still thankful to this day that Chávez had given her the motivation to get an education. My mother knew that in order for my older sister, my younger sister and I to succeed, she would have to teach us the values she had learned when she first arrived in the United States. I know that if I want to become something important I have to get my education first. Since she is living proof that no matter where someone is from anyone can achieve the American dream, I know that I can become what ever I want. César Chávez changed my mother’s life by making her understand that with an education she could do better than working in a field – she could become a successful entrepreneur. She has now passed down those values to me and my sisters.
Although César Chávez is not alive today, the motivation and inspiration he gave others is still living strong. Chávez has made an impact on my life. Not only did he encourage my mother to get an education, but he has given me the strength I need in order to succeed. He has shown me that no matter what gets in my way, I can push it aside and move on. He made many sacrifices so that people like me could get the education they need, no matter what race they are. César Chávez wanted to demonstrate how important an education can be, and succeeded in making people reach out to get that education, and not only changed their lives, but the generations that came after.