SAN DIEGO — It was an emotional moment for 19-year-old Estephani Ayala from Spring Valley as she listened to her mom, Silvia Preciado, say how proud she is of her daughter, who is studying to become a lawyer at UC Merced.
"They always raised me to pursue higher education, a better life, and the opportunities given to me. I'm just really happy that I made them proud," said Ayala.
Ayala is the daughter of immigrant parents, her mom and dad both grew up in Mexico and migrated to the United States for a better life, but the path to the American dream wasn't easy.
Having financial struggles and not having the proper education to establish financial security made it difficult for her and her family.
According to migration policy, when migrant families come to the United States, many are still learning to navigate new financial systems. This is why Silvia looked for assistance and got help from BSP, a non-profit organization that helps migrant families with financial security by providing education programs.
"My mom was in this union, and they recommended joining the build and skills partnership, so it's an organization that provides help for low-wage property workers and families," said Ayala.
Silvia had to work twice as hard every day as a janitor, getting paid minimum wage and sometimes struggling to make ends meet.
At one point, she even worried that she couldn't save and help her kids in college. Still, the program helped Silvia's family with tax preparation, savings, and even setting up her kids for college by informing them of scholarships and other financial aid resources.
"I thought, oh, I won't be able to do this, but the scholarship helped me greatly. I've gotten into a few student loans, but it's not anything I can't handle," said Ayala.
Ayala is studying to become an immigration lawyer and hopes to use her experience to help others who are struggling the same.
"I want to keep families together and help those people, especially the Latino community," said Ayala.
Ayala said once she finishes school and becomes a lawyer, she wants to open a firm and help other migrant families in Spring Valley.
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