Equity & Access PreK-12 | Nov - Dec 2020

Page 46

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By Bryan Contreras, Vice President, K12 & Education Partners, myOptions® From the fruit orchards of Texas’ Rio Grande to the tomato fields of south central Florida, back to the pecan groves of the Gulf Coast, the cotton fields of West Texas and the lush strawberry and apple lands of Oregon, I come from a Mexican-American migrant family shaped by the history and economics of our nation. Our family’s grit and determination to break out of intergenerational poverty has not been easy, and this fight is far from complete, however, the bedrock of my family’s accomplishments is built on my paternal grandparents’ deep-rooted beliefs in education. Their combined will and vision pushed us through obstacles, too many to mention here, and toward heights where dreams, hard work and miracles intersected. As a family of migrant workers, we followed the 46

crops and seasons across this great land, living day to day, like vagabonds seeking stability and a place in our nation’s promise for the American dream. Much like chasing this dream and the harvests of our labors, my family’s educational experiences felt just like our migrant journeys unstable, unpredictable, and at times limited. Across generations, we experienced school segregation, busing, de-segregation, bilingual education, and many compromised policies that tried to stitch together our communities’ needs and the solutions from educational policymakers. Some amazing school counselors and mentors, whom I believe are “equity heroes,” brought to life educational opportunities and changed the trajectory of my family. Cornell, MIT, Phillips Exeter Academy, and self-made entrepreneurs (now affectionately called “start-ups”) are now woven into our family’s fabric. I wish I could say these accomplishments were based solely on

The American Consortium for Equity in Education