Felicia Cisneros wept after her teenagers Michelle and José Cisneros, teammates on Orosi High's Academic Decathlon team, finished the Super Quiz Relay last Saturday.
Michelle, a freshman, and José, a sophomore, walked away from the Tulare County Academic Decathlon competition without a medal, but grateful for the educational opportunity not available to their older sister in México.
From the stands at the Mission Oak High School gymnasium, Felicia, whose oldest daughter, Biridiana Figueroa, 25, still lives with family in Oaxaca, pieced together the English words from last Saturday's relay, a quiz on the particulars of Russia.
On the gym floor, Michelle, 14, and José, 15, both honor students, answered the questions the best they could as part of Orosi's 18-member team.
The teens, both born in the United States, are already planning their careers. They look forward to attending prestigious universities, and hope college-prep courses like statistics and algebra will help them get there.
"It's very important, these years learning in high school. I love that they're participating. I tell them to learn everything they can," said a tearful Felicia, an immigrant from México.
"I have a daughter in (Oaxaca) México. She has to do her studies on tourism through the Internet. Education in México is very difficult to obtain. It makes getting ahead in life very difficult. So I tell them (Michelle and José) to take advantage of the opportunities they have here."
Felicia said she followed her husband, José, Sr. to the U.S. in 1993. While she's now a stay-at-home mom, they were both farmworkers in the Cutler-Orosi Unified School District area for decades.
According to Orosi High principal Tanya Goosev, 60 percent of the families with kids in the 950 enrollment have parents who are Latino farmworkers.
Michelle and José have never worked in the fields, but they both said their father continues to do so.
Michelle aspires to be an endocrinologist. Late last year, she began to feel the affects from what would be diagnosed as Hyperthyroidism.
"I can't sleep at night, I can't eat, my appetite goes away. I get really tired when I get home, I can't do my homework, but I still have to. I get very hot, nervous. And I have to go to the doctor a lot, so I have a lot of absences from school," she said.
Michelle, a freshman with a 4.29 grade point average, made up five absences through Saturday classes.
Aside from the many effects, an overactive thyroid produces an overabundance of hormones.
"I have to see an endocrinologist, but they (Children's Hospital of Central California in Madera) won't accept me because they have too many patients. So I wonder about other kids who don't have the resources to go to L.A., because I have to go to Los Ángeles to the Children's Hospital over there," said Michelle. "I think an endocrinologist would be helpful around here."
"I would like to go to Oxford University," said José Jr., a sophomore with a grade point average of 4.0 and who wants to be an architect.
"It's in Europe. It's a good college for engineering and building stuff."
With eyes welled up, José Jr. said, "My sister in México, she's very smart. We've asked her for help with our homework."
Strathmore's Harmony Magnet earns state berth
"We won the overall championship today. It was a team effort and we all did a very good job in representing our school," said Brandon Olmos, 16, a member of Harmony Magnet Academy's Academic Decathlon team from Strathmore.
Harmony Magnet, a private school will represent Tulare County at the state championship in Sacramento in March.
Olmos, a junior, was also part of last year's Knights team that made a run to the state championship.
Olmos won 10 medals after this year's decathlon.
"I want to go to UC Irvine (University of California, Irvine) and major in biomedical engineering. It leads to a career in the medical field," said Olmos, who had his parents, José and Martha Olmos nearby for support.
"I really would like to help people."