My Father Had to Take on Two Jobs

“It made me feel bad to have to ask him for support.”

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarifying Questions
  • The speaker tells us that her family moved from Mexico when she was young. How did the move impact her mother? How did it impact her father?
  • How does the speaker feel when her friends in high school start talking about college?
  • Why do you think the community college was called the College of Last Chance?
  • Why does the speaker have to “ease her parents into” considering college after she’s received her Associates degree?
  • How does her mom react to the search for schools? How does her dad react?
  • How does the speaker account for the differences in her parents’ reactions?
  • Why does the speaker feel bad asking for her father’s support?
Interpretive Questions
  • What do you think accounts for the shakiness in the speaker’s voice as she tells her story?
  • What kind of responsibility do you imagine the speaker now feels towards her parents?
  • What are some of the possible impacts the speaker’s decision to go to a private university might have–on her own life? on her family’s life? on her relationships?
Implication Questions
  • When have you made a sacrifice for others?  How did you feel?
  • What have others sacrificed for you?  How did you feel?
  • How do you know when a sacrifice is worth making?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for My Father Had to Take on Two Jobs

Well my family was all born in Mexico in the town of Cuautla and when I was born they decided to come to the United States for a better future but mostly to work. My mom growing up was very loving, uh, I think she took pride in her kids because that’s the only thing she had here besides my father.

My father, he had to take on two jobs. He was very busy, and I wouldn’t really see him during the day. It was maybe in the morning if I woke up early enough and I saw him going off to work and he would come back at like midnight so he would be gone basically all day.

I remember that after high school I was always a good student, but it was during my senior year in high school that I started seeing everybody else applying to school and getting really excited about what schools they were going to go to. But that wasn’t really an option for me knowing that I wasn’t going to receive any federal aid, and I knew that I still wanted to continue studying but I just didn’t have the same options as my friends. So, I decided to enroll in community college and a lot of people mocked it as the college of last chance.

Even when I was going to get my associate’s degree and I was so close to obtaining it I didn’t know if I’d be able to transfer because even more for me it was a financial strain on my family knowing that I wouldn’t receive any federal aid. So I started doing research on my own looking at scholarships, um, looking at what schools I could apply to and kind of easing my parents into it although my mom she would always be supportive of me.

She wanted me to continue, but it was a little bit harder for my dad because he was the one making the most money, and it, it made me feel bad to have to ask him for his, um, for his support, in, in that way because he’s always worked really hard and I feel like he’s given me as much as he can.

I started telling him about schools that I was looking at and this was obviously the school I was looking at because it was two hours from home so it was close enough that I knew that my parents could come visit if I wanted them too, and he was very um, he was live very proud of me at that point. And I remember that he started crying, he started crying because he just didn’t know if he could afford it.

And I remember that um, when he started becoming more involved, he, he uh, took a weekend off and we visited schools that I had been accepted to, but he would never say much. He would just kind of look around and I could see my mom was the one that was getting very excited for me. She obviously wanted me to continue, and my dad did too in a different way. He wouldn’t show it in the same way.

It was about three weeks before the semester would start, the fall semester would start and the adviser I had spoken to here kept getting in contact with me asking me whether or not I was going to come here or not. They needed to know.

I asked my dad and my mom whether I was going to do it or not. They just said, “Yes.” Although they didn’t know exactly how they would work it out. So I made the decision to come here two weeks before the semester had started and I had nothing. I gathered everything. It was a rush. It was just a mess, um, but I came. And, um, I remember because obviously I did get some help financially, but it doesn’t cover everything. And my dad ended up taking, because I couldn’t take out student loans, he ended up taking a loan from his 401 K, um, and that’s the way he was able to help me.

And although I thought my parents would come to visit, they didn’t come to visit as much as I wanted to because also like the gas money or just coming out here sometimes wouldn’t work, it wouldn’t work out as much and that was my first year here.