leaky pipe:

disconnection in the education system

youth stories

sindy, 18, south county

My mom was deported from the U.S. when I was young. I was the only one of my siblings born in the US, and was left in the care of one of my aunts. They didn’t take good care of me. When my mom heard, she sent for me to live with her in Tijuana. While I was living in Tijuana my mom enrolled me in school, but when I was 12 years old I told her I wanted to come back to the States to go to school, and she said yes. I did not have a place to go, so she told me to find a youth shelter and that they would help me. There are no youth shelters though. They just place everyone together and only separate us by males and females.

I saw some crazy stuff — a lot of ladies on drugs — but some of the older ladies took me under their wings and took care of me. Eventually I went home and crossed the border every day to go to school until I was sixteen, when I found a room I could rent and got out of the shelter. I would have to get up at 4:30 and cross the border every morning, then take two busses to get to school, and I got there every day on time. I remember getting to school some mornings and I would always hear other people complain about going to school and getting there late. I just think that if you really want something you will make it work.

My aunt, who works at one of the local high schools, told me about the Able-Disabled program and how they would give me money and help me get my G.E.D. I also rely on Medi-Cal and food stamps for support. With Medi-Cal, I’m not afraid of getting sick and going to the doctor. With food stamps, I can get food. In Able-Disabled, I worked on the Career Smart program and did Excel training. My mom supports me and continues to push me to go to school and make something of my life. With school and work, it’s difficult, but I do my best to go home to visit my family and bring back gifts for them. Aside from my family, my best friend’s family has also been very supportive of me. They live in another state, but they’re so encouraging of me and have been such a positive influence. I even referred my best friend and she’s here now going through the program. My best friend is a really positive influence, but most kids my age aren’t. They were always, like, into drugs and bad stuff.

I feel I have to work to get more experience to get a good job, but my education is important too. I’ve gotten experience here and there by babysitting the neighbor’s kids in Tijuana, and working at Subway. I love school! Now that I’ve gotten my G.E.D., I want to enroll in community college. I really want to be a police officer. I have thought about going into the Army and have even met with a recruiter. I talked to this police officer too. He said that I should go for it. He said I was Latina, bilingual and female, and that would make me a good hire.