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Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month: Samuel Cervantes

Image of student in blue shirt on a benchFifteen years ago, Samuel Cervantes and his family left their home in Monterrey, Mexico to pursue what his parents called  “las oportunidades del otro lado” (translation: opportunities on the other side). To make ends meet, his dad worked long hours at a job far from home, yet his salary wasn’t enough to support an entire family. So Cervantes’ parents sold their belongings and moved to the states with a small stash of pocket money to build a better life.  Now a junior majoring in government and communication studies, Cervantes is fulfilling his parents’ dreams, taking advantage of all the opportunities the “other side” has to offer.

A new identity… “When my family entered the United States, we became a new family. Our language was no longer the majority. Our culture was no longer the status quo. Our identity was no longer solely Mexican. I consider myself Mexican-American; the hyphenated part, now there’s the complexity. I was born in Mexico, which allows me to claim an attachment to Mexican heritage, but my culture became a synchronism of Mexican and American traditions, values, and beliefs. I can’t say that I am 100 percent Mexican or 100 percent American because my traditions, values and beliefs come from both cultures.”

Familial inspiration… “Courageous, resilient and humble are words that resonate when I think of my mother. She is the central, vital point of my life. Although my mother continues to be weary and scared of the political environment, she continues to remind me to be true to myself, to be attentive of my actions towards others and, most importantly—as she would always emphasize—to treat others with respect and dignity. She might not have been raised in an environment that allowed her to flourish, so she made sure that I was given all she could provide.”

A change in the narrative… “A division is created in the undocumented community when the Dreamers are extensively praised. A binary between a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ immigrant is counterproductive to the movement. I believe that all immigrants are Dreamers. My dreams are my parents’ dreams; my parents’ dreams are my dreams. Immigrant liberation is intertwined in the liberation of a migrant worker and of a college student.”

Activities: Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Pre-Grad Intern; Austin City Hall Fellow; Discover Law; University Leadership Initiative; Texas Blazers; Foundation Scholars Program, College of Liberal Arts; Office of Student Success and Recruitment; Intern, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund