I Am the Library: Sandy Elias

By: Karla Ortiz

The impact of your donations and of the purchase of this newspaper is reflected daily in the hundreds of teenagers who are currently studying in high school and university in the various schools in San Miguel de Allende, thanks to the scholarships that La Biblioteca provides each year. These teenagers wake up every day with one purpose, and that is to get ahead. Even the youngest recipients of these scholarships are already thinking about what their future will look like.

Sandy Marlen Elías is one of the youngest, having received the Amistad Canadá scholarship. At the age of 16, she has already figured out what she wants to study at university, although of course that may change, since she still has time to try out different areas of study.

Sandy, along with her siblings, has always been adventurous. Together with her brothers and sisters, she has walked and explored the nearby hills of Don Juan Xido Cabras, the community where her family currently lives. Sandy has an older sister who studies at the university, a brother in high school, and another brother in sixth grade, all of whom have been very impressed by the idea of studying, thanks to their parents, who instilled in them an affinity for learning. Her dad is a gardener, and one thing Sandy appreciates is that no matter how hard he’s had to work, he’s always made sure that she, her siblings, and her mom came out ahead. Her mother’s effort has also been considerable, because instead of letting her children spend time in front of the television or keeping them busy with other things, she took them to the library to take English, painting, or computing classes and often also took them to the additional activities like the Posadas or summer courses.

In addition to playing and taking some courses, Sandy has also been interested in dancing, basketball, soccer, and her most recent activity, cheerleading on the high school team. When she was a child, she had an accident which forced her to give up football and basketball. One day, while riding a bicycle with her brothers and sister, she fell to the ground. She immediately tried to get up, but the moment she got to her feet, she fell and didn’t understand why until her dad found her and her mom checked her leg. It was then that they realized that Sandy had broken her tibia. She had to wait four months before she could move, and two more years to fully integrate herself into her normal activities. After that accident, she could no longer be on any sports team until she entered high school and became a cheerleader.

She never cared much about studying outside her community until one day her school suggested she attend high school in her community. Her mom immediately rejected the suggestion. They went to the USAE (Unit Service to Support Education) offices and demanded a place in a school in San Miguel. The staff who met with her father told him that this was impossible, that “people from the ranchos go [to school in] the ranchos, and those from the city go [to school] in the city,” which angered Sandy’s father and prompted him to demand equal opportunity for his daughter. By the end of the discussion, Sandy was enrolled in enter Fuego Nuevo High School. It was then that her father said, “If I keep sending you all to the community school, we won’t make progress. How can you compare a school where only one teacher will teach you eight subjects to a school where you will have eight to ten teachers who teach those subjects?”

However, that wasn’t the end of it all. Soon Sandy began to suffer teasing and indifference from children in her neighborhood. Currently, Sandy doesn’t have any friends in her community. Everyone has stopped talking to her because she transferred to a school in San Miguel. Some of the neighbors have even told her that studying doesn’t work, that she better get to work so she can earn her money. But that doesn’t matter to Sandy, because she is looking for her future and dreams of finishing a university degree in order to support her parents and allow her siblings to continue with their studies.

In her new high school, she met a National Geographic photographer. After seeing his documentary and talking with him, a spark inside her lit up, and her taste for photography began to grow. When she entered CBTis (also known in Mexico as prepatoria or “prepa”), she opted for the specialization that would help her in this subject, programming, but unfortunately she couldn’t get in, and the teachers integrated her to the Support and Maintenance of Computer Equipment group, where she is learning to clean and take care of electronic devices, both internal and external. This will also help her in her career, since she plans to study design in digital media. She has realized that she is passionate about her specialty. She has even practiced with her family’s computer at home, although she says she almost broke it. But in the end, she did not despair and managed to get it up and running.

Like any other teenager, Sandy also has goals in life. Besides finishing her degree and supporting her siblings’ studies, she wants to travel and get to know various parts of the world, staying periodically in different countries, but always returning to San Miguel. She plans to accomplish this by creating her own business. Her mother always tells her to dream and dream big, otherwise she will never achieve what she sets out to do.

Sandy is very grateful to the library. “They have supported me so much. Now my parents are no longer so pressured by the tuition fees of their four children, no longer looking for loans or going into debt to buy uniforms or school supplies. I’m very grateful that in addition to the financial support, [the Library] has also motivated me, because they really recognize the effort and the willingness to study of all of us who are in the program. Thank you very much.”

 

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