I am Selena Ibarra, first-generation daughter to migrant farmworkers and eldest of 11 children. I was born in Pendleton, Oregon where my parents first migrated from Mexico to pursue the American Dream. A dream that would prove to come with great strife for my family as we struggled with poverty and language barriers.
Being the first in my family, I had to miss school when one of my siblings was sick to serve as the interpreter for my parents at doctor’s appointments, although the medical terms were often too complex for me to understand. Graduating high school and pursuing a college education was a big step in my family. I became the first in my family to attend college, where I had to figure out each step as I went along. Looking back, I realize that I was not only paving my own path, but I was carving a path that could be just a little easier for the rest of my siblings to follow as well. Having a basic understanding of access to college such as applications, strong resume building, and filling out the FAFSA proved to make a great difference for my siblings in easing anxiety about taking such a big step.
I joined the SAF Cosecha fellowship because I want to learn how I can make other people’s lives a little easier too. Migrant workers are a vulnerable population and, coming from this background, I understand there are many children of farmworkers like me who struggle to navigate this world filled with obstacles. Just being able to provide basic knowledge on these complex systems and access to resources (in health, education, workforce, etc..) can go a long way and I want to be a part of this movement. I hope this program can offer me tools that I can use in my current job as well as outside of my career to be able to serve my community. Seeing the different ambitions my ten siblings have for their futures makes me an extremely proud older sister and gives me proof that I can continue to make a difference in people’s lives.