A Daring Journey: From Immigration to Education

Tulin Acikalin

"Being able to connect with the client and be compassionate with the client when your own parent came across the border illegally, you understand what it's like to be terrified in a way that someone who is born and raised here, and documented, could never understand."

Tulin Acikalin is the former Managing Attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid and is now a Founding Partner of ADZ Law, LLP, and a member of the San Mateo County Domestic Violence Council.

Ryan Atkins

"There's a difference between equality and equity; you have to throw out your notion of equality and start figuring out where the differences are."

Ryan Atkins is a former Physics and Philosophy Teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School.

Chris Bischof

"We are firm believers that, for each student who becomes the first member of his or her family to go to college, an entire family's trajectory changes for the better."

Chris Bischof is co-Founder and Principal of Eastside College Preparatory School.

Nancy Fellom

"Immigrants represent the influx of new ideas, new possibilities. They believe that, by working hard and getting as much education as possible, that they will be able to be better off and make a better life for their children."

Nancy Fellom is an immigration attorney.

Sergio Garcia

"Throughout my life, being poor and being chronically poor, I knew that the only way out, the only way to exit that poverty, was to educate myself."

Sergio Garcia is an attorney.

Luis Bejines

"My friend got his feet twisted, and he kept on limping. I had to help him out, so I was carrying two backpacks all the way. But, we made it through the whole odyssey."

Luis B. is a published poet with a Master's Degree in Literature.
A link to his books of poetry: lulu.com

Katherine Hite

"On our Vassar web page, we see interesting pictures of Vassar women from the 1890s, the 1930s, the 1940s, and I often think, 'Okay, well, yes, that looks a little bit like me, but how do many of my students feel for whom none of those pictures look like them'?"

Kathleen Hite is the Chair of Political Science at Vassar College.

Luis Inoa

"I am personally involved in wanting to make sure that first generation - specifically, and especially, Latino - students can come to this institution and that they understand that we do not view them as being less than - that we do not view them as having deficiencies here - that they're more than capable of doing the work."

Luis Inoa is the Director of Residential Life at Vassar College.

Helen Kim

"Our students go through a lot of strugles when they compare themselves to other students that might be in their neighborhood."

Helen Kim is co-Founder and Vice Principal of Eastside College Preparatory School.

María Marroquín

"I came here for economic reasons, with my son. I sold pots and pans, I sorted clothes in a second-hand clothes store, but my life changed when I came to the Day Worker Center. When I finished my first job, I felt really strong, that I was capable of changing my life. More importantly, I became passionate about the day workers. I saw how they struggle, and how they suffer.

I began coming to the Center to give the workers rides to work, and started to volunteer in the office. I hoped to organize the workers; I got involved with community activism, and started going to City Council meetings. Today, I have become the Executive Director of the Center."

María Marroquín is the Executive Director of the Day Worker Center of Mountain View.

Protima Pandey

"I have heard a lot of people say, proudly, that, 'I didn't want that life for me.' Never once did Ruben say that to me, that 'I didn't want my father's life for me.' What he said was, 'My father has that life because he wants me to succeed.'"

Protima Pandey is an Attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid.

Jazmin Pichardo

"I realized very quickly that there was definitely a class difference. I felt like the students there were better prepared than I was - better educated. That was jarring to me because, I never thought it would be such a big deal until I'm confronted with it every day."

Jazmin Pichardo is a graduate of Vassar College.

Thomas Porcello

"Students who have parents who've been to college have those parents as a resource to talk to when those students feel confused or feel lost or want guidance."

Thomas Porcello is an Associate Professor Anthropology at Vassar College.

Janet Robles

"If he studies, he will not have to work like we do."

Owner, Michoacan Market.

Ruben Robles, Jr.

"I definitely want to become an attorney, because as an attorney I can problem solve, and I can think of creative ways to advocate for people. And that's what I want to do. I want to advocate for people. An attorney takes complex cases and simplifies them to be able to give a strong argument by being concise. A lot of people have trouble understanding their own situation, and as an attorney, you try to understand complex situations so that your clients can understand."

Ruben Robles, Jr. is a graduate of Vassar College.

Ruben Robles, Sr.

"On the ranches where we lived in Mexico, it is not easy. Many kids cannot attend school; maybe they do not have the money to pay for transporation to school - or food."

Owner, Michoacan Market.

Anna Takahashi

"At the end of the year, we actually have a unit on Philosophy where things don't have right or wrong answers - where there isn't necessarily a formula to plug into."

Anna Takahashi is the Director of College Counseling at Eastside College Preparatory School.