Scholarships give rural family new hopes
By Carole Schor (09/30/11)
When they say, “It takes a village to raise a child,” they must be referring to the village of Corral de Piedras de Arriba, a little pueblo just about 20 minutes outside of San Miguel de Allende. Here, in this community of less than 2000, children are being raised by extended families who encourage their studies with such success that 10 of them qualified for Jóvenes Adelante scholarships and are currently studying at universities or graduates working in their chosen professions.
Such is the case of Maria Rosaura Adriana Cruz Tobar, affectionately known as “Chagua.” Rosaura, like many of the local campesinos, has parents who never finished school or conceived of a college education. Her mother, Estella, completed only four years of secundaria and her father Javier just two. These loving parents may not have had any higher education, but they certainly have had a marriage that worked and lasted. They will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary this coming December 30, with as many as 200 extended family and friends attending. Perhaps they owe their marital success to the fact that Javier has been a legal farm worker in the United States for the past 30 years, picking cucumbers, apples, flowers and Christmas trees in Wisconsin. Every year he brings a Christmas tree home to Mexico in December and stays till February, returns to Wisconsin, and returns to visit his family again mid-summer.
Having parents who didn’t attend school but who work in the fields and operate a family-owned grocery store in Corral de Piedras did not stop Rosaura from pursuing a university degree, with the help of a scholarship from Jóvenes Adelante. Nor has it held back the other children. Eldest son Guillermo (Flaco), 20, is studying engineering and computer systems at the Tech. in Celaya; second son Javier (Gordo) has just graduated from prepa and is looking to continue in the footsteps of his siblings; and Edith, just 12, is in the Honor Guard for placing first in her class.
When Rosaura was a young girl in the campo, she wanted to be a nun. But cousin Marisol Cruz Cervantes, from her pueblo, was one of the first JA beca recipients, and she inspired her cousin to excel in school. Rosaura was second in her prepa, CBETIS 60, and third in her university class, where she majored in business administration.
The road through university and to graduation wasn’t always easy for Rosaura. Her first mentor, Nancy Dobbs, died of cancer three years ago. Nancy was a major influence on Rosaura and impressed upon her the reality that being shy would not get her anywhere in the world. She also encouraged Rosaura to make friends outside of the family because in the future she might need them. When Nancy was dying, her biggest lesson for Rosaura was to let things out and not keep them inside. After Nancy’s death, JA assigned a new mentor to Rosaura, Judith Turner, whose upbeat positive attitude and years of experience as a high school teacher were the perfect next step to help Rosaura succeed, graduate, and face all of life with a winning attitude and a fantastic smile.
JA psychotherapist Judy Holden stepped in like a life-long friend and helped to pull Rosaura out of her grief following Nancy’s death, reassuring her that she would be fine and continue to succeed in school and life. Rosaura had become obsessed with school to the exclusion of all else; she would study, study. By following the advice of her beloved mentor Nancy, and making friends, she changed her outlook. Now she is a maniac on the dance floor and loves Norteno and Salsa–“when her parents allow her.” Her parents are rather strict and feel that rules will keep the kids in school and guarantee their success.
Rosaura works five days a week in Celaya in office administration and considers herself lucky to have a job. She shares an apartment with two sisters. When her brothers come to Celaya for school, she will look for an apartment with them and another Jóvenes student. Rosaura doesn’t mind her parents’ restrictions and, in fact, looks forward to the weekends when she can go home and spend time with her family.
Rosaura’s story is just one of the many heart-fulfilling stories that make Jóvenes Adelante one of the most successful charities in San Miguel. Its history of granting scholarships to promising university students is one that is changing the face of Mexican culture and the lives of aspiring young Mexicans, their families and communities.
For information on how to be Jóvenes Adelante volunteer, contributor, or sponsor, visit www.jovenesadelante.org or email@example.com. Carole Schor is a free-lance writer and an enthusiastic JA volunteer.