For a couple of years in my early childhood, I regularly slept at night in a car. I would lie in the backseat, my legs stretching all the way to the other seat. Sometimes I would snore.
I was there because I was raised by my mother and grandfather, who both worked (and still work) two jobs, one of which was delivering newspapers. There was no one else to take care of me. I started to go to their newspaper delivery job with them—some nights with my mother, and some with my grandfather, while I slept in the car.
At first, I thought it was fun sleeping in the car while they were working, and whenever I’d wake up, I would help them. As I grew older, it all became real. I realized they actually needed my help at work so we could earn enough money to have a stable life.
Today, I work two jobs—at a fast food restaurant after school and overnight on weekends delivering newspapers.
I work all weekend. After I’m done with school on Friday, I go straight to work at Chipotle, where I serve food. It’s almost midnight when I get out, then I’ll rest and wake up around 2 a.m. to go work with my grandfather, delivering Star Tribune newspapers.
After my route, I get home around 7 a.m., eat breakfast, sleep, and wake up around 2 p.m. Sometimes my grandfather will wake me up to go grocery shopping and buy ourselves something to eat. For the rest of the day, I have a small amount of time to hang out with my friends, but I eventually have to be back home before midnight, because that’s when I go to work again with my grandfather. I repeat the same schedule as Saturday.
This is my teenage-years routine. It stresses me out, and I wish I had more time for myself or to spend time with friends and family. I am missing out on the teenage life others lead.
I take this as a life lesson. I am determined to use my ambition to make certain my future children are able to live a more typical teenage life.
Fortunately, I have earned many opportunities, such as attending a good school (Cristo Rey Jesuit High School) that prepares me for college. I’ve received academic awards from school and from my corporate work study program, where I work in a corporate office one day per week during the school year. I’ve been involved in a research program at my school and with the University of St. Thomas called Together Possible, and I’ve been in a summer journalism program at St. Thomas called ThreeSixty Journalism.
I am determined to use all these and other opportunities to thrive in college. Succeeding in college—and as the first in my family to do that—will change my life as well as those around me.
“Yo quiero que tu vivas una vida más mejor que yo,” my mother will constantly say to me. (“I want you to live a better life than the one I’m living.”)
“Yo voy hacer a ti y a mi abuelo orgulloso, ma. Lo hare. Lo se que lo hare.” (“I will make you and grandfather proud, Mom. I will. I know I will.”)