Mi Familia Es Mi Energía

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Holistic Wellness Part 2: Staying Motivated and Inspired

Editor’s note: This article was originally given as a speech at the annual Student Affairs State of Division on October 7, 2021. Angelica Garcia is a sophomore studying Sociology at UC Berkeley and a Fiat Lux Scholar. If you’re looking for a scholarship or need help finding one, contact the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. Información en español acerca de ayuda financiera del estudiante y becas.

My transition and time here at Berkeley, both online and in-person, cannot be possible without an energizer. I’m not talking about an energizer that can keep me awake all day, I’m talking about an energizer that fuels me through the semester, through the spaces where I fail to find people who look like me, through the spaces where all I hear is English and never Spanish. Berkeley is a little less than 400 miles away from where I was born and raised, which is Boyle Heights/East LA. Lucky for me I have four energizers, each of them responsible for a fourth of the distance, for every 100 miles.

My Father’s Determination

The first energizer is my father, mi padre trabajador, the most hardworking man I know. Every morning he wakes up at 5 a.m. to head to work, he works in construction about an hour away from home. I know this because every time I facetime him in the night, he tells me how tired he is and how he has to go to sleep because he has to wake up early. He tells me to get my sleep para que mi cerebrote funcione, so that my big brain can function. Back when I was in LA, my father would give me a kiss on my forehead to let me know that he was leaving for work. Now he sends me a good morning message asking me to take care of myself and for me to never forget how much he loves me.

My Mother’s Joy

La mujer más hermosa del mundo, the most beautiful woman in the world, is my second energizer. My mother energizes me by bringing me life, just like she did almost 20 years ago. She brings me life through laughs and tears. My mother has been through all the ups and downs of college. She is the person I call when I get accepted into an internship, when I cry because of homesickness, when I’m in doubt about a situation. She reminds me that the emotions I go through here in Berkeley are normal and essential to my growth. She never goes a day without telling me how proud I make her.

My Brother’s Dreams

The third energizer is my brother David, my little man. I remember when I carried him a few minutes after he was born. I was so happy because I was so excited to be an older sister. I knew I had to care for him and guide him. I was able to go pick him up from his first day of high school and I cried. This was the first time I saw that little boy that I carried standing outside of his high school. It hit me then that he would soon be in my shoes, walking around his college campus. Every time I call, he tells me how he passed his test, how he is learning x, y, and z, and how he is soon going to have his first cross country race. Actually later today, he is competing for the first time. My brother is that reminder of who I am. I am that older sister that is navigating higher education on my own so that he won’t feel lost. I am getting this degree so that he can always know that he can and will become that engineer that he has always dreamed of.

My Sister’s Love

My last and final energizer is my twin. Most twins are the same age, but my twin and I have a sixteen-year gap. My baby sister Valerie is the most energetic and joyous person I know. I thought I was the loudest of the family but she beats me. Every time I call home, she screams at my mother asking for the phone. I want to talk to Ca, quiero hablar con Ca. She calls me Ca because she cannot pronounce my full name. It wasn’t until a few days ago that she told me Yo te quiero mucho Angelica, I love you, Angelica. She brags to our cousins and family friends that her hermana is at Berkeley. If I were to show you a picture of my little sister and a picture of myself when I was her age, we are identical. The same smile, the same love for dancing, but she is also more than what I was. She is fearless, she is independent, she is so smart. She tells me how she will go to Berkeley one day just like me. I don’t know if she fully understands what Berkeley actually is but she tells me with so much determination that she will.

My Family is my Energizer

I remember when I found out that I had received the Fiat Lux Scholarship, I made my whole family take a picture with me holding the #ICommitedtoBerkeley poster. And in the picture with my siblings, Valerie is there holding the corner of the paper with the biggest smile on her face. I always look back at those pictures when I am feeling the weight of imposter syndrome or homesickness. 

I shared with my parents a poem that I wrote about healing. About how I will heal myself, I will heal my undocumented parents, my brother, and my sister. My family energizes me to obtain that healing. The healing I am searching for is not in the form of pills, it is in the form of my ideas, my ambition to become a High School College Advisor, so that I can help other low-income, first-generation, students of color get into spaces like Berkeley, to help my brother become the engineer he wants to be, to guide my sister’s curiosity, and to give back to my parents who have sacrificed everything for me. They are my energy and constant reminder of my purpose every single day, every single time I see their photos on my wall as I do homework from my desk, every time I check my phone and see Valerie smiling right back at me. Mi familia es mi energia, and without them I wouldn’t be able to present here as a Fiat Lux Scholar. 

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Angelica Garcia (she/her/ella) is a sophomore at UC Berkeley majoring in Sociology. Connect with Angelica on Instagram: @angeeee_licaa. Featured image by Guillermo Gonzalez, Instagram: @guillermo.photo.