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MPA Mexican-American Issues, North Carolina

April 14, 2016

I am a Mexican-American man, 27, born and raised mostly in California; I am now a permanent resident of North Carolina. I relocated here initially to attend the XXXX School of Law. As a result of a death in the family back home in California, however, I only completed one year of law school, in 2013. Since then, I have recognized with increasingly clarity that I aspire to a leadership position with respect to North Carolina’s Latino community; this is why I want to switch tracks and earn the MPA at North Carolina’s flagship university in a program designed specifically for those who want to be leaders in their communities.

I earned my undergraduate degree in History because I have long had a passion for understanding social change and progress, particularly from a Mexican or Mexican-American perspective. As a Mexican student of history, for example, I learned that “the border crossed us” not the other way around, at least in the beginning, something which has continued to color my perspective on Mexican identity ever since.

Throughout my undergraduate studies in history, I had my heart set on law school because I was under the impression that lawyers were movers and shakers; and many are, and many do make important contributions to social change. Nevertheless, as I have matured over the course of the last few years, I have come to better understand the limitations and pitfalls of a career in law and, while I do not rule out finishing a law degree in the future, I now have my heart set on the MPA because I want to be first and foremost a bilingual leader of the Raza and to participate as fully as I can in the debates going on in the public square about immigration, human rights, culture wars, economic development, and the protection of the most vulnerable, particularly from a Mexican/Mexican-American perspective.

I am currently interning for the XXXX a non-profit organization that supports troubled children, providing legal, social, and psychological services. Many of our clients are Spanish-speaking immigrants and I am in charge of interpreting for them and translating their documents. The most important thing that I am learning here is how to go about building and making a great success of a non-profit organization. I am getting the big picture; and I find myself very much inspired to begin planning now for building my own non-profit in the future, based on the wisdom that I will acquire as a result of completing the University of North Carolina’s MPA Program.

XXXX is my first choice for graduate school for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I live close by. In addition to being the flagship MPA program in my state, I see no other program that attracts me as much as yours simply because of your thoroughgoing emphasis on the importance of leadership—and being a leader is central to my professional, personal, and spiritual mission. I am very dedicated to my community, our Latino community here in North Carolina. Perhaps the single most noteworthy feature of the Hispanic or Spanish-speaking immigrant community here in North Carolina, most of them undocumented, is that this population is growing rapidly. I enjoy studying the way in which stringent legislation and attitudes along with scare tactics in the public sphere have sent many fleeing from Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia, and have come to see our state as something of a safe haven. This is also why I see the Carolina MPA program as the optimal springboard to prepare me for a lifetime of service protecting and assisting Spanish-speaking children and their families who are at risk or in crisis.

I am a hard worker and a quick learner who has a significant amount of experience in a variety of areas that will be critical to my professional performance in the future, molding me into leadership positions. In addition to my current position protecting at-risk children, I have also worked extensively with the school district in my community, especially translating benchmark tests designed to prepare children for the California Standardized Test.  I have worked with a migrant program in partnership with the Caesar Chavez Foundation providing extra, critical support to children who have missed out on school because of the migrant status of their parents. Caesar Chavez is my foremost hero.

I also started an athletic program in our school district, managing 3rd-5th grades boys and girls basketball and soccer teams for 5 elementary schools. The fact that I am a former semi-pro soccer player provides me with great clout in the Latino community and I try to take advantage of this gift to inspire young people, especially the little boys. I have also worked with Autistic children, providing services that would enhance their communication skills to enable them to achieve greater levels of independence and productivity. I worked specifically with low-income Spanish speaking families. I have set down roots of my own in North Carolina and bonded with Latino communities and numerous social and professional networks that I see as perhaps my greatest asset. I want to devote my life to helping low- income Spanish-speaking families fight drugs, gangs, and violence through the implementation of greater access to and completion of higher education, greater appreciation for bilingual education early on, and most of all, jobs.

I also plan to spend the balance of my life wrestling with questions of Mexican and Mexican-American identity, and I hope to publish in this area at some point with reference to my own sojourn in sense of civic self. I have sometimes thought that I should simply identify myself as American, other times Chicano, less frequently Mexican. I have come to realize and appreciate that it all depends on the ‘audience’, with whom I interact and for what reason, as I become different things to different people. For me, the idea of identifying myself as a "Chicano" is no different than citizens of Texas identifying themselves as "Texans" during the Mexican-American War. I am mesmerized by what I see as a great confusion surrounding many issues of race and ethnicity, especially from a Mexican or Mexican-American perspective. But I hope to be an even better doer in the future than a thinker; and I see my own choices as very personal, a direct result of my passionate sense of identification with the Latino community. My community provides me with a cause for which to fight in search of a sense of nobility in struggle. In my case, I proudly represent all Spanish-speaking families from challenged communities. I am proud to do so as a Mexican-American who is himself a product of a low-income Spanish-speaking, immigrant home with a very difficult childhood.

This is why I want to be the voice of those who suffer today as I did long ago, in those critical years when only a few of us got off to a really good start and many if not most of the rest fell behind. Despite the fact that I was born in CA, I assimilate rapidly with immigrant families. I am able to bond with them because I understand them and relate to them, the difficulty of the challenges that they face and the courage to struggle forward to care for one’s children and their long term needs. I want to be a voice for the ‘undocumented’, especially in North Carolina, their ambassador, their champion.

I feel strongly that we need to think more in terms of social programs on both sides of the Rio Grande River and less about building fences and manning armed patrols along the border with Mexico. First, fences and guns do not work; the children come anyway, many in search of their dad or their mom who is already here. I am part of what I believe is a majority of Americans who favor some kind of immigration reform that would respect the basic human rights of families, parenthood, and the right of a child to dignified treatment. I admire my President Obama but I am saddened by our failure with immigration reform. This issue is close to my bone and I hope to stay on the cutting edge of the struggle as long as necessary.

I thank you for considering my application to your program.

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