Gabby Alcantara, LSC-Kingwood

Winning Essay:

My destiny changed when I was just 5yrs old. That's when my parents decided that they desired a better future for us and moved from Mexico to the U.S. The highest level of education my parents received was middle school, but they did the best that they could to give us a quality life. Even though I wasn't born in America, I still consider myself as the first generation here from my family. I grew up in a small town and saw plenty of my friends get married and have kids at a young age, but I knew I wanted something more. I wanted to show my parents my gratitude for their sacrifices and that I could make something of myself. As soon as I turned 16, I began working, and at age 18, I had two jobs that would continue until the age of 24. I had moved out and lived in a different state with my boyfriend of six years during that time. My original plan was to save money so that I could pay for school since none of my other 4 siblings had chosen to go to college. Unfortunately, the relationship that I was in turned very abusive and my focus changed. Instead of focusing on the future, I was just trying to survive day by day.

Mentally and emotionally I was drained, and the thought of school disappeared. A few years went by before I finally had the strength to leave that relationship. Once I finally did leave, I moved back to Texas to start over and to be with my family. Needless to say, I was disappointed and ashamed for allowing myself to get to that point. At 25yrs old, I had to restart my life and while it was still a young age, I had lost precious time. Thankfully, my faith and my parents helped me get back on my feet. I began putting the pieces back together and thought about what direction I wanted to take my life. I seriously considered school again. It had been 8yrs since high school and while people always say it's never too late, it's a different story when you're actually living it. I had to be realistic about it, because I honestly couldn't tell you what I remembered learning in high school. I heard of Lone Star College when I lived in Splendora, so I decided to do some research; afterwards, I proceeded with the application process.

From the very first time that I met with advisors, the confidence in their voice made me feel like it was still possible for me to get a degree. Sure enough, two and a half years later, here I am about to graduate with my associates degree and looking to transfer to Sam Houston University to continue my studies. Never in a million years did I think I would be here at 28yrs old; yet, I am so thankful. Lone Star College gave me the hope I needed at the time I needed it. The abusive relationship I was in had taken away all of my confidence, and going back to school gave me back that confidence. I began to realize that the possibilities are endless. My parents and siblings have been very supportive on what I am doing and hoping to accomplish. I am living the life that I've been wanting to live. While going to school is beneficial to me and my future, it is also my way of showing my parents that I understand that their sacrifices weren't easy. That I appreciate them by getting the education and living the life that they couldn't live, but instead envisioned their children living.
The road hasn't been easy, but God-willing come May 2015, I will be the first person in my entire family to graduate college. I will forever be grateful for the faculty and Lone Star College for opening the doors to me. This is only the beginning for me; however, now that the foundation has been built, I am going as far as the road takes me. I want to be living proof that even though I come from an immigrant family, if I work hard enough and get an education, anything is possible and nothing is ever too late.

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