A Daughter’s Tribute to Her Father

Recently the campus community witnessed a peaceful demonstration of students who gathered in the dining hall to raise awareness about issues around immigration. One of the students gave an eloquent testimonial of her father’s familial devotion and invited everyone present to think of their own families. The theme of gratitude that pervades the testimonial makes it a most fitting Thanksgiving offering.

A Daughter’s Tribute to Her Father

More than a week, that is how long it took my father to walk from his rancho and finally arrive in the U.S. At the age of eighteen he made the brave decision to immigrate in hopes of a better job, new opportunities, and most importantly in hopes of a better future for his wife and children. He walked day after day, night after night and carried just enough food and water to keep him alive. He walked past deserts, under the burning sun, with little rest and all this for those he loves. Do you think this describes a criminal, someone who is willing to go to this extent for his family’s future and happiness? ‘Mi Apa’ works every day, sometimes Sundays, on a bad day seven hours and on a good day over ten hours. It’s only a good day for him when he works more than eight hours. Why? Because only then does he know he will have enough money to pay the bills. On a rainy day ‘mi Apa’ gets home with clothes soaked, body shivering, stomach empty, and sore muscles. On a hot humid day ‘mi Apa’ gets home sweaty, thirsty, and tired. Yet, his smile never fades away. The next day he still wakes up at 4:30 a.m. and heads out for another day of work. He is determined, he is proud, he is brave—he is my hero. My father, a father of five, is the one who has taught me to be strong, to work for what I want, to never give up, and to never depend on anyone for anything—to be an independent woman. Thanks to ‘mi Apa’ I am here. I am standing here, I am on the road to a successful future, I am living up to his expectations. ‘Mi Apa’ can’t help me financially as much as he wishes he could, but I can’t blame him, for one year at Saint Mary’s College would mean almost four years of endless labor for him. Growing up my father never said ‘no’ to us. We might not have had everything but we always had enough and that made me appreciate the little I had.

Thanks to my father the College has fresh vegetables in Oliver Hall every day. Students have the privilege of eating and enjoying these foods without having to work for them. Let’s not pass a day without thanking the cooks and workers who prepare the meals that nourish our bodies. My name is Liliana. I am Mexican, born in Guanajuato, who moved to the U.S. at the age of four. I am proud of my culture, my beautiful language, and most of all I am proud of who I am because I am the creation of two loving parents. ‘Mi Ama’ who went up to second grade is now a stay-at-home mom and my father who barely finished elementary school harvests the food placed on our tables. Despite many obstacles I am here. And my parents, along with my three sisters and one brother, cheer me on, push me to my fullest potential and never lose faith in me. My parents are like your parents. They want to see their children succeed, to be happy, to be educated yet humble. They work hard so their children can attend Saint Mary’s. They struggle so we don’t struggle. We are not that different after all, are we?


4 thoughts on “A Daughter’s Tribute to Her Father

  1. Roberto Vargas says:

    My thanks to the Latino student who shared her story about papa and familia. May many Latinos read her article and remember that we are here to fulfill the vision and dreams of our papas, mamas, and abuelitos; and that we have tremendous value to bring to this society. USA is one of the most powerful and wealthy nations on Mother Earth. It can become a force of greater good in the world, and we as LatinoAmericans have a role in making this happen. Given our immigrant and working-class experience we have wisdom and skills for achieving life success and advancing a world the works for all. — Roberto Vargsa


  2. tywoniak says:

    Thank you, Liliana, for sharing your story — your heartfelt words echo my own mother’s story as a migrant daughter working in the agricultural fields of California before becoming one of the first Latinas to be awarded a full scholarship to U.C. Berkeley. Your story is an inspiration for all of us no matter what our age or where we (and our parents) originally came from.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s