Eunice Gonzalez is a second-generation American who was born and raised in Santa Maria, California. Her parents emigrated from a small pueblo near Ejutla de Crespo in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico and eventually moved to California where they tended to strawberry fields. As a child Gonzalez would wake up at sunrise, pack her lunch, and join her parents in the strawberry fields for twelve hours a day during the summer. Not only was Gonzalez a hard worker in the fields, she was also a dedicated student.
Despite Eunice’s challenging circumstances, she was able to graduate from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), one of the nations top public schools. Gonzalez knew funding her education was going to be difficult so she applied to over twenty scholarships, in which she was able to successfully earn a full ride scholarship to UCLA.
Gonzalez graduated from UCLA debt free, meaning that upon her completion from college, she had no loans to pay back. She noted, “The most important advice I have is to apply, apply, apply! Scholarships are not going to fall on your lap if you’re not applying for them. I applied to over 20 scholarships and got some rejections, but nonetheless the few acceptances I got made all the difference. The reality is you’re not going to get all the scholarships you apply to, but if you apply to a plethora of them, you will get some.”
with economic challenges, as a first generation college student Gonzalez was not granted the essential knowledge to maneuver through the college application process. Eunice, like many second-generation citizens, was the first in her entire family to seek out a path towards education beyond high school. No one in her family was able to tell her about SAT and ACT tests, which are mandatory for college acceptance, or how taking Advance Placement (AP) courses and your high school grade point average (GPA) are important factors when applying for scholarship and universities.
Eunice, happy to share her experience and knowledge with others, stated “Some advice I have for students who are and/or have family working in the fields is to use that as your drive. While our family members may struggle in the work that they do, we have the privilege of being born into a family of warriors who fight every day of their lives for what they have, we cannot take that for granted. Their sacrifices and diligence should be motivation enough for us within our education trajectory. My advice is to seek out resources, seek out support, to ensure that your education is in your hands. If your counselor thinks you’re not good enough to take an AP course, prove them wrong. If you think you cannot afford college tuition, apply to scholarships. There is always a way to succeed in education so long as you’re willing to do the work to fi nd resources and guidance.”
With dedication and hard work Eunice has been able to fulfill her educational goals and become the first in her family to graduate from college. Eunice proudly graduated from UCLA June 2015, with a Bachelors of Science in Chicana/o Studies and minors in Labor & Workplace Studies and Gender Studies. Currently, her career goals are centered on advocating for social justice.