LASIF Scholar Spotlight: Ana S.

Ana’s College Admission Essay:
“Engraved on her delicate chest, a centipede-shaped scar marks where her tumor had been. This is the first time my mother is seeing her double mastectomy scar, and her calloused hands quickly wipe away tears; I hold her. I begin to inspect her surgically-attached drains, like the in-home nurse that I have become.

Two years ago, I’d trodden up the cockroach-decorated stairs of our apartment complex and was surprised to find my mother home early from cleaning houses. She confessed her diagnosis in a whisper: “Tengo cancer.” I ripped off my backpack and sobbed into her shoulder. In that moment, I transitioned from dependent to caretaker.

Carless, my mother and I rode the city bus together to every chemotherapy appointment. At the hospital, I translated the doctor’s explanations into Spanish, completed homework on the cold floors, and sorted through contracts for my mother’s clinical drug trial.

As the oldest child in a single-parent household, the weight fell on me when chemotherapy weakened her. So I made sure the cooking pan never ceased to sizzle, the counterfeit marble-tiled floors of our one-bedroom apartment never lacked shine, and that my face—the face of strength that my younger sister looked up to—never broke.

Yet secretly, I felt powerless. I could neither scream loud enough for the cells to stop multiplying nor pray hard enough for the tumor to disappear. All I could do was bear witness to my mother’s body turning against her—at the very moment when the government was suddenly turning against us for our undocumented status.

After the election of a president who preached anti-immigrant rhetoric, my mother sobbed to me, “I’m sorry I ever brought you to this country.” But I shook my head and reminded her how she escaped our crime-ridden neighborhood in pursuit of a dream. Consoling her, I explained how the fruits of an education in the United States were being reaped: I’m at the top of my class, motivated by the depth of her sacrifices.

Unfortunately, these are sacrifices that are paid no mind during the process of deportation, and we both knew this. So in an attempt to prevent being uprooted by ICE, I registered my family for our church’s free legal clinic. I confessed our journey: our escape from violence and terrorism in Peru, my mother’s countless hours on minimum wage to pay federal taxes, and our celebration of my DACA approval. The attorney’s immediate response remains embedded in my mind: “There’s nothing that can be done.” As my mother’s body tensed, I took hold of her hand and squeezed it, trying to reassure her that we would be okay, somehow.

And then, DACA was repealed. In those raw moments after Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s decision, I cried and worried for the actualization of my dreams. I’d made myself even more vulnerable to deportation by sending all my personal information to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services when I applied for DACA.

But in these times of despair, I sought my village, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. I marched in the front lines of their protests, still daring to speak out. I’ve realized that though the system instills fear upon my being, I am not powerless. The risk of deportation lingers, but it will not hinder me from pursuing what my mother brought me to the U.S. for: an education that could change my future. Like my mother who beat cancer, I, too, embody power—in my academic passion and my determination to hold the reins of my life.”


About Ana

Ana Mariana Sotomayor Palomino is a recent graduate of Belmont High School and hopes to enter the journalism industry. Propelled by the inspirational people in her community, Ana has overcome various obstacles and earned a cumulative 4.4 GPA. After weighing her college options, she has decided to attend Princeton University in the fall, with all expenses covered. Ana credits her academic achievements to support programs like the Bresee Foundation and plans to use her education as an instrument towards sparking change.

To join with LASIF in building a brighter future for L.A. students, like Ana, click here.

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