Making My Father Proud

As iMentor seniors wrap up the final weeks of their high school careers, we wanted to showcase some of the talent and the stories of the Class of 2021. Below is a college essay by Jorge Reyna, who writes about taking on more responsibility in his family and realizing how he would like to shape his own future. Jorge will be attending Dominican University in River Forest, Ill. this fall, and plans to major in accounting or accounting and finance.

Throughout the years I’ve always wondered what I wanted to do after high school. I wasn’t sure if going to college was the best option for me, and instead thought trade school was the better option. However, due to certain circumstances, this changed, and I wanted to enroll in college.

My father's absence is what influenced my decision. His deportation my first year of high school motivated me to enroll in college so that his sacrifice and my mom’s wouldn’t go to waste. They left their country in order for me and my brothers to have better opportunities.

My father’s words never really hit me until I started working as a construction worker over the summer of 2020. I remember him saying phrases like, “Study so that you won’t have to dirty your hands,” “Study so you won’t have to kill yourself for working so hard,” and “It’s better to work sitting down at a desk than working outside when it’s 90 degrees.”

He only said this because the working conditions were better, but the jobs themselves are just as hard.

He said, “It’s easier to pick up a pen than a shovel,” and let me tell you from first-hand experience that he was right!

He never wanted me to work when he was here. He told me to only focus on school and extracurricular activities and that was it. When it came to telling him I started working in construction, he was not pleased. But he understood that I had to work. And after a long talk, we agreed on it and he told me to be careful and to keep doing well in school.

My father’s absence played a big role in my life. A lot of things changed once he left. I learned to be more independent after he was gone and to make my own decisions. I learned how to take the bus by myself. I understood that taking care of a newborn baby brother was a big responsibility, considering the fact that he was only one week old when my father got deported. I became the father figure at home and I had to set an example for my brothers and make sure they are on the right path.

After a long summer of work, I realized that labor wasn’t my thing. I realized that sitting at a desk all suited up was where I belonged. My father’s words helped contribute to this. Working with numbers has always intrigued me. So I knew that I wanted to work with numbers, and the business industry came to mind. That’s when I started to think about pursuing a double major in accounting and finance.

The biggest challenge I feel that I will face is internship availability due to my undocumented status. I fear that I might not find an internship within my field of study.

However, with the help of the iMentor program and my mentor, who is also in the business industry, I am hopeful for what's ahead for myself and in this world. I will continue to control what I can and take one step at a time as I work towards accomplishing my goals. I hope to live up to my family’s expectations and make them proud, since I’ll be the first to attend college.