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Texas State alumni share immigration stories

Photo by: Lesly De Leon | Staff Photographer
Gloria Velasquez, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages poses for a photo March 10.

Dean of Students Margarita Arellano left Nicaragua in 1978, after a civil war broke out, something she says was traumatic for her, especially after her husband was taken prisoner for several days.

She had never considered moving to the U.S., but after her husband was taken, it was clear— they had to move. Arellano moved to Austin and later earned a Ph.D. at the University of Texas.

She worked as an administrator at the University of Texas until 2009. After, she moved to Texas State.

Arellano spoke at Success Has No Borders, an event hosted by Gloria Velásquez and Alba Melgar, Spanish senior lecturers.

Arellano said it was a struggle to get where she is. Progressing in her career as administrator was difficult because she was on her own and had no mentor, but she learned from her struggles.

“I learned that having goals is important,” Arellano said. “I learned that you preserve in order to be successful. You also need to have courage to overcome (struggles).”

Arellano said success is a 2,000-step process, and failure only occurs when one doesn’t learn from it. As an immigrant, she became a citizen of the world.

“Immigrants are the pollen of the world; they pollinize the earth with better things,” Arellano said.

Photo by:  Lesly De Leon | Staff PhotographerAlba Melgar, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages, poses for a photo March 10.
Photo by: Lesly De Leon | Staff Photographer
Alba Melgar, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages, poses for a photo March 10.

Jesus Baeza, a Texas State alumnus, was born in Mexico and came as an undocumented immigrant with his mother when he was only three months old. Baeza is now a software tester and teaches computer access to people who are blind.

Baeza said as a young child, he was placed in special education classes in school because of his blindness until talking with the principal. The principal agreed to place him in regular classes if he could do the work without assistance.

In high school, his teachers did not think he would graduate or attend university. The hardest challenge is overcoming when others believe one can’t succeed, Baeza said.

Juan Hernandez, Spanish and history senior, was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. at 8-years-old. Hernandez said learning English was difficult because his school did not offer English Second Language or bilingual classes.

Hernandez said in high school he didn’t think he would attend college. His father had been deported, his sister was returning to Mexico and he had to work to help his family.

However, a high school teacher encouraged him to apply to a community college and he consequently earned a scholarship to continue his education. When he was accepted as a transfer student to Texas State, he didn’t know how he would pay for his education when he kept being told he didn’t qualify for financial aid as an undocumented immigrant.

“Even if one person took something away from this, it’s a success,” said Alex Villalobos, University Police sergeant. “The overall success is people come away with a better understanding of opportunity, a better understanding of success and some of the struggles everyday people go through.”

Velásquez said she wanted students to be empowered and understand anything in life is possible.

“Anyone can achieve their goals and be successful if they just have determination and willingness to work,” Velásquez said.