How We Survive
By Xicana Ph.D.
I am here. This is a meditation and prayer. This was the first sentence of my dissertation. It is an affirmation that as long as I am still breathing there is work to be done. This is how I not only “made it” through my Ph.D., but how I made it through the what seemed impossible life challenges I endured while pursuing “higher education”.
I did not have the support I needed from family going to college. From the time I entered community college I was a newly married (and later divorced during the end of my undergraduate years) young Xicana working multiple jobs who was placed on academic probation and later dismissal-I was kicked out of community college. After making it through CC and transferring, I made a drastic life decision to lose what I thought was the only support and safety net I had. What propelled me forward had been consistent for many years, I like many students knew I was doubted. I had too heard she’ll end up this or that too many times. It is the same bs talk I hear my own students deal with when people wish to judge and stereotype without knowing who someone really is or believing they are brilliant.
Then in graduate school I did find support where I least expected sometimes. I stopped fighting for what I thought it should look like and instead welcomed in many people. I found myself in difficult situations and circumstances that many counselors said should’ve sent me to a breaking point. Somehow with the support of a few caring people and my community I was able to stay in school. I took my doctoral exams when my son was five months old and I was an adjunct with no funding. I was a single mom. I knew I had to make it to graduation.
Now coming up on three years from finishing the Ph.D., I see how we got through those years. I find myself here now, amazed how I made it to today. Maybe some were right to wonder how a Xicana from the IE, from Rubidoux HS, from the middle of the desert, a Xicana with a 2.4 high school GPA, a single mother, a survivor could do what so many said was impossible, I have to tell them the secret to it all is that no one does this alone.
That is how we survive inside and outside the academy. This is how we survive these systems that wish to render us invisible and silence us. We need each other now more than ever to fight back and fight for a better tomorrow.
Towards a planet with no more oppression.
Towards healing the earth.
Down with fascism.
Down with capitalism.
Together. this how we will win.