Meet the Interviewees

Beatriz Agular Beatriz Aguilar (B.S. in Natural Sciences, Loyola Marymount University) was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and moved to Bakersfield at the age of 9. She is an accelerated math teacher at St. Vincent School in downtown Los Angeles, where she teaches fifth through eight grades. She also volunteers through Vincentian Service Corps West

When I got into a university, I guess I started, like, a new path for my family. And that was another pressure on me, because I didn't want to mess up, since they were looking up to me. All my sisters, my cousins, everyone. But that was also a motivation for me to keep going... So it's like from now on, my little cousins are going to hate me or they're going to like me, 'cause they're like, "Because of you I have to go to college." Read more

Marissa Harrington Marisa Harrington (B.S. in Business Administration, CSU Bakersfield) grew up all over California, moving constantly to follow the crops. She works in marketing and promotions for the Kern County Airports Department, and is now pursuing an MBA at CSUB.

"When I was in high school, I did want to pursue higher education, because I would see the way my parents were struggling. It was difficult. Just the fact that my parents never got the opportunity, not even to go to kindergarten. They do not know how to read or write, so I was the translator." Read more

Laura Hastings Laura Hasting (B.S. in Nursing, M.S. in Nursing, CSU Bakersfield) grew up in the Woodville Labor Camp and in foster care in Porterville, California. She is a Nurse Practitioner.

"I think I never wanted to work in the fields. I know that my parents were very adamant that they did not want me to go to high school. That was one of the big arguments, because no one in my family had. I was the first one, a female, to go to high school. And it was really hard for them to see that. They wanted me to graduate 8th grade and just go work in the fields, and not attend high school. So, I fought that." Read more

Elizabeth Munoz Herrera Elizabeth Munoz Herrera (BA and MA in sociology, CSU Bakersfield), grew up in the DiGiorgio Labor Camp. She teaches U.S. government and social studies at Tierra Del Sol Continuation School in Bakersfield.

I worked my sophomore and junior year in the grapes. I noticed in the fields, when the foreman started handing out the checks, he was handing them to the fathers in the families. And my father said, “No, the check belongs to her.” And the other families sort of made fun of my father. And he said, “I should be laughing at you. You’re having your sons and daughters work, but you’re taking the money. What pride is there in that?" Read more

Carlos Bombela Carlos Mendoza-Bombela (B.S in Nursing, CSU Bakersfield) immigrated to the U.S. with his family without documentation at the age of 2. He is a Registered Nurse and is now earning his M.S in Nursing, specializing in Women's Health Care, at CSU Fullerton.

When I was growing up, they had a contest for the M&Ms company. On the back of the package, it said: "You must be a legal resident of the US to enter this contest." And I remember thinking about that, saying, "So what, because I don't have any papers, I'm "illegal?" You're not one of us, that kind of thing.
In high school, I was a 4.0 student. I'd never thought about college, 'cause who was going to give me money? How am I going to pay for it, right? It wasn't until my counselor in high school asked me, "Where are you going to college?" I said, "College?" She's like, "You're a 4.0 student. You should at least apply to a college." Read more

Ricardo Morales Ricardo Morales (B.A. in Criminal Justice, minor in sociology, CSUB) was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and immigrated with his family to the U.S. without documentation at the age of 3. He is a Youth Mentor Coordinator for a local nonprofit.

My dad always said, "I want you to get an education so that you can choose a job that you want to have, not the job that you have to have." And I think that that’s why I decided to go to college. Read more

Connie Perez Connie Perez (B.S. in Business Administration, Concentration in Accounting, CSU Bakersfield) grew up in the Woodville Labor Camp. She is a C.P.A. and partner in the firm of Brown Armstrong Accountancy Corporation. She also serves on the State Lottery Commission, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown.

Sometimes when I think, especially of my life over the last couple of years, it’s a life that I never would have imagined living when I was a child. Ever. And it did all start with my education, and working at Brown Armstrong, and meeting different people from different parts of California, traveling because of work.
The first time I went to the beach I was 19 years old, which is, when you think about that now, pretty tragic. It all started with me getting my college degree and being exposed to different people, different places. Read more

Jesse Quintanilla Jesse Quintanilla (B.A. in Sociology, M.A. in Counseling Education, CSU Bakersfield) grew up in Weedpatch, California. He is Director of the Educational Talent Search Program at CSUB.

So I started dating [my future wife], and it became a little serious. She said, “Jesse, you know what? I’m going to go to college.” College? What for? I had already done 2 years of the Regional Occupation Center, for carpentry, which is ok. It would have been a good paying job, or I could work in the fields. But she said, “Jesse, if you’re going to date me, you got to come to college.” I thought, “Okay, a little bit of pressure.” I thought, “Okay, I’ll just go to college.” Read more

Andres Rico Andres Rico (B.A. in Political Science, Fresno State; J.D., University of California, Hasting College of the Law) was born in Michoacán, Mexico, and grew up near Porterville, California. He is an attorney with his own practice in Sacramento.

I've always taken a challenge. When I got into law school and I went to San Francisco, I just drove up. I didn't know exactly what was going to be happening there. I didn't understand anything. But I knew I was going to do it. Read more

Juanita Sanchez Juanita Sanchez (B.A. in Liberal Studies and Teaching Credential, CSU Bakersfield; M.A. in Educational Administration) grew up in Tulare, California. She is the principal of Noble Elementary School in Bakersfield.

I had a younger sister. She was just, like, 2. She would be the water girl, and she would carry the water up the rows, so that we would have water when we needed it. My younger brother, who was maybe 4, he would spread the paper, to dry the grapes on. So, he was the paperboy. And he would move up the rows and put the paper down because if you couldn't pick, you had to do something. So we had the water girl, and the paperboy. And everybody else picked. Read more