The Power of ParentsBy Michael Sadowski, Ed.M.'95, Ed.D.'05
Ricky immigrated to California with his parents and four siblings when he was four years old. Although Ricky is very much an American high school student (his history teacher was surprised to learn that he was not born in the United States), his home life very much reflects the experience of an immigrant family. Ricky says he speaks Spanish about 90 percent of the time at home and that his family struggles in ways that are common among immigrant families living and working in California’s agricultural communities. While his mother stays home to care for his younger siblings, his father, Ricky says, “works in the fields,” not for any particular company but wherever work is available at any given time. Ricky’s parents are like those heading many immigrant families in that, despite their own challenges, they are fiercely driven to help their children rise above their own circumstances. As Ricky explains:
My parents had a very hard life when they were small, and they’re always saying how hard it was, how hard it is in the fields, and that they expect me to go to college and get a good job.
In fact, Ricky cites his parents as the strongest contributing factor (in addition to his own hard work) to his success as a student. Even though they are not able to help him much with his schoolwork because they speak little English, Ricky says his parents find myriad ways to support him toward the goals he has for college and beyond:
My parents always do whatever they can to help me out, whether it’s buy[ing] me something important. Like, I like participating in science fairs, so they buy me all the materials I need. If they need to transport me somewhere, like to a college tour or like field trips, they always, like, take me.
To read more, please visit Harvard Education Press’ Voices in Education blog.