Brisa Bejarano-Gonzalez, 19, is a freshman at University of Colorado-Denver. She received a $10,000 scholarship from Hide in Plain Sight, a nonprofit that helps homeless students pursue higher …
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Brisa Bejarano-Gonzalez, 19, is a freshman at University of Colorado-Denver. She received a $10,000 scholarship from Hide in Plain Sight, a nonprofit that helps homeless students pursue higher education, because of her family’s struggles with homelessness when she was young. She works two jobs to pay her bills so that her mom no longer has to support her. Bejarano-Gonzalez is studying English and wants to become a teacher.
“We were going from place to place. It was maybe from six months until I was 2 years old. I was really young, so it’s not something I can recollect, you know? But my mom tells me stories now.
“What my mom had to go through, every challenge that she had to go through is an eye-opener for me ... Everything I do, I do it for my mom because she’s been through so much throughout her life. What she did was for my own good, for my siblings’ own good. Everything’s basically for my mom.
“I used to be ashamed of being Latina. Sometimes it was embarrassing to say where your family came from because you’d get made fun of in school. Now it’s like `You have so many opportunities.’ I appreciate my mom for it.
“My mom has always been strong and independent. As soon as she knew she was pregnant with me at the age of 19, she packed her bags, came to a country of opportunity and decided she was going to start fresh no matter what obstacles she had to face. She pushed through with the mindset of a better life for her daughter.
“I have (faced racism). Mostly in middle school and the beginning of high school but not so much after that ... (Some people) think that because you’re foreign you’re able to do labor work, you have to do it, and that’s the position you’re supposed to be in. I’ve had a lot of (people) who tell me that I shouldn’t be going to school. I should be doing something rather than school. I’ve had a lot of that confrontation, but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do.”
“When I think about making an impact, I think about my community, the Latino community. So just looking back from where I come from, a very small town and the Aurora area where I was living before, there are just a lot of kids who don’t have the resources that they need. We do have access to a lot of things — they just don’t know about it. So I’d like to bring that awareness and help that out.
“I want to teach high school. My senior year, I took a class called Pathways to Teaching. It was about the teaching world ... I learned so much about teaching and students and how students view teachers ... It’s a very hard profession and I want to be able to do something challenging and help students who have a similar background as me get through what I went through as well.”
“I believe it is important for young voices to be heard because it creates a bigger community of opportunity ... for minorities — homeless, of color, less power, etc. ... People should listen to my story as an eye-opener for those who can’t speak up for themselves — including those who don’t see the struggles that homelessness brings to younger individuals.”
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