Lupita Baltazar is now the first in her family to graduate from a university after overcoming challenges with some inspiration from her parents.
Her parents came to Los Angeles as immigrants from Mexico and always worked hard to give their daughters the best education.
“It's just been really worth it and valuable, not only as a person, but as the first person graduating in my family, it really means a lot”, says Lupita as she recalls the hardships she endured to be able to graduate from California State University, Northridge (CSUN).
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Student during the week, street vendor on the weekends
Lupita's parents started their own business to support the family and provide a good education for their daughters.
“We started our own business as food street vendors. We had a food stand of tacos and we would sell tacos, enchiladas, burritos. This was in front of a grocery store. It was very competitive. And I was always helping them sell”.
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Lupita studied hard during the week, but she knew that during the weekends she had to give her 100% working with her parents.
“I would be in charge of the money, because we would also have people that spoke English and they don't really speak English that well. So I would help them out with that”, recalls Lupita. “It was very challenging because I remember the city would come and pick us up and they would just take our things away”.
The family of five live in a small apartment in Panorama City. Every weekend, they had to carry all the stuff they needed to sell tacos from the second floor without an elevator.
However, after the pandemic, Lupita and her family stopped selling tacos.
“My parents are not street vendors anymore”, she said, adding that now they are focusing on their studies and doing other types of work.
But her parents' hard work has been the main inspiration for Lupita.
“I was able to see all my parents had to go through and with their words, and their actions, they always reminded me ‘you don't want this lifestyle, you want something better for you and for your kids and for your generation’”.
Setting the example for the next generation
Lupita has two sisters. One is also studying at California State University (CSUN), while her younger sister is only 10 and looks up to her.
“She is in elementary school and she always tells me ‘I wanna be like you. I want to go to CSUN, that is my dream school,'" says Lupita who is 22 years old.
While Lupita was studying at CSUN, she was the president of a Latino Journalists Club. She wanted to give back to other students and guide them through school with the knowledge she acquired during her time in college.
Many students that are first generation going to college, do not have a clear guide on how to navigate the school system, or how to apply to jobs afterwards.
The club was an opportunity to provide information to other students “because I feel that many times we have the resources, but you just need to be reminded about them."
"Many of our parents did not go to college, so they cannot guide us."
Some of the workshops Lupita spearheaded with her team were how to “apply for internships, how to make sure your cover letter is good, make sure your resume is good. We were able to do mock interviews. You know, sometimes you get really nervous in interviews. So I feel like practicing between us was a great workshop," she said.
She was recognized by the CSUN School of Journalism and for her contribution to help other students getting ready to apply for jobs. After a lot of work and navigating the education system alone, Lupita graduated this week as a broadcast journalist with a minor in Spanish language journalism.
“I'm really passionate about journalism, because I love storytelling and being able to be that source of help for other people and communities," she said.
She thinks that this milestone is not only meaningful for herself, but has an impact in her family and community.
“We are breaking generational curses, you know, we are doing it and just being able to set that example is already an achievement."
Lupita is grateful for the journey and is ready to reach new goals as a journalist who represents her community.
Lee esta historia en español.