28 Jun El Principio
“Los mejores trabajos se encuentran aquí en California. ¿Por qué te quieres ir tan lejos?
Unlike most of the success stories my father hears from his trucker friends about their kids, I didn’t turn out to be a star child. So, no estaba tan contento that I wasn’t offered a full time position at some fancy corporate company after graduation as a Cinema & Television Arts major. At times, I wonder if sticking with Radiologic Science as my initial academic career would have provided a more straight forward path, and would have made my poppa proud of me to be in the medical field. Maybe my graduation would have been more memorable knowing that I did what my parents wanted, and that all their years of struggle with coming to this country would have paid off through me.
But, here I was. A first-generation Chicanx student from the Barrio in the last few days of being an undergrad, planning, coding, animating, and modeling for my last class projects. My group seemed equally as busy, but I wondered if they worried about their future careers too. They seemed to have such big plans after graduation, so I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little bit jealous.
” My parents are funding my graduation trip to backpack across Europe for a whole month.”
“Me and some buddies are pooling money together to get a start-up company going.”
“I just got offered an internship at [insert big shot company here]!”
I mean, like I have some mad ideas on where I want to be after graduation too. I was thinking Park Ranger for the National Park Service (NPS) would definitely be an option to pursue. I did it once before, at Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve in Arco, Idaho. It was a pretty fun summer gig to be a part of. I was able to meet and interpret information about the landscape to people who came from different parts of the world to explore America’s Best Idea. My housemates Bret and Bryan were the best adventure buddies a Valley chick with no nature experience could ask for, and my other housemate, Rachel, was the first friend I made there. I am so happy that I was able to meet them and the other amazing staff at Craters who loved the landscape as much as they loved working in it.
Pero, como siempre, I let doubt sink into my mind. Although Craters of the Moon brought some insight on how the NPS works, the more I learned about it the more intimidated I have become. It is such a small job market, and the people who tend to work there do it for life…and I mean literally until they’re like viejitos. How can I compete with those who have worked in six or ten other national parks & monuments for numerous years, when I have only worked in one (for a summer!)?
What could possibly be in store for me there? Maybe my father was right.
“Piensa en el futuro. No puedes estar agarrando un trabajo y no una carrera. Por eso te dije que fueras un Nurse.Creerme que lo mejor esta aquí en California.”
You only live once…those were the words that kept me going, as silly as it sounds. As I was filling out the internship application, I was reminded of the first time that I applied to work with the Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP) and I felt like I was setting myself up for some disappointment. However, the mind under stress makes you paranoid. In my last week at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), I began to think of all the things that could, should, or would gone wrong with my submission. Eventually I got lost in work and became more settled with the idea that I was going to walk the stage for graduation, so that I had honestly forgotten about my application at that point. So I was excited to see an email notification on my phone during graduation when it said “Interview with LHIP.”
As I sat in my cap and gown staring at my phone, I was just starting to think that my dad was right. Maybe I shouldn’t follow that path because its not worth the wait. But, then again, he doesn’t understand the process either and maybe it was worth it. I knew that wouldn’t be able to see my family for two months, but that’s a short amount of time for such a big opportunity to work for the NPS.
Things seemed to be looking up, and as I crossed that stage thinking about all the hardships and generations of history I carry for my family, friends, and my beloved hometown, I was happy. I know getting an education doesn’t end for me there. After 14 years of schooling, I am be able to start a new chapter in my life. As the LHIP wants to construct a pathway for Latinos to be a part of the NPS workforce, I too want to promote Latino visitation to the national parks and give them a chance to explore these beautiful landscapes.
As I prepared for my interview with park officials for a position in Oregon, I had to dump all that doubt out of my mind and prepare as much as I could to stand out. I wanted to think that the last four years of my life at CSUN were worth something, and I wanted to prove that to my family, especially my dad.
As the weeks passed and after a couple later interviews, I happily accepted the position to work at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park in Astoria, Oregon, as an Interpretive and Education Intern.
Encuentra Tu Parque