My 2nd grade teacher introduced me to peanut butter for the first time in health and nutrition class. I remember tasting it on a celery stick and liking it. I was on the free and reduced lunch program. Wanting to fit-in, I asked my mother one day to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. When lunchtime came around, I was excited to eat my own lunch just like my friends. My first clue that this was going to be a lunch to remember, was seeing that my mother packed my lunch in a Wonder Bread bag. I reached deep into the bottom of the bag and pulled my sandwich. I couldn’t wait to bite into my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was happy that I wasn’t going to stand-out that today. As I pulled the sandwich out of the bag, I saw between the two slices of white bread, whole beans sticking out. My mother had made me a whole bean sandwich for lunch! I was shocked! Embarrassed! I quickly shoved my sandwich back in the bag. I wanted to crawl into the bag and be tossed in the garbage.
Have any of you ever worked hard for a promotion? Have you ever worked hard for a promotion, and then told that you received the promotion because you’re a minority? My senior year in high school, my counselor asked me what I wanted to do after I graduated? I had good grades and I was taking college prep classes. No one in my family had gone to college. My dad had a first grade education. My mother finished middle school. I wanted to go to college but I didn’t know where. So my counselor and I looked at the UC schools and I told my counselor that I wanted to go to UC Berkeley because it was close to home, being close to family is very important to us Latinos. I wanted to major in aerospace engineering. Why aerospace engineering? Because I grew up seeing the Blue Angels at Moffett Field and my dad’s friend worked at NASA. My counselor looked at UC Berkeley’s admission requirements for the prior year’s incoming freshmen class and told me that I should not apply to UC Berkeley because my grades and SAT score weren't high enough. Well, my attitude is that when someone tells me I can’t do something, I will try harder to prove you that I can do it. Against my counselor’s recommendation, I applied to UC Berkeley and several other UC schools. Guess what? The first school that accepted me was UC Berkeley. What a feeling! What a victory! In fact, I was accepted to all five of the UC schools that I applied. As admission letters started arriving and word spread among my senior classmates of where everyone was going or not going to college, I heard from some classmates, who felt they were more qualified than me, that the only reason I was accepted to UC Berkeley was because of affirmative action. Because I was a minority.