Jacqueline Silva is hoping her college education will be enough payment for the sacrifice her farmworker parents made to help her succeed.
Silva earned a Dell Scholarship and will soon join her brothers at Sacramento State University this fall. She thanks her parents, María, a Jalisco, México native, and Arturo Silva, of Michoacán, for delivering her to the United States and the chance at college.
Jacqueline, 18, will present a welcome to spectators in Spanish at the school’s commencement ceremony tonight (June 7) on campus. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the ceremony begins at 7 p.m.
The only Dell Scholar from Farmersville High School this year, Jacqueline often worked the fields herself alongside her parents. She’s also earned the Jack in the Box, Ruiz For Kids and a church scholarship, all local scholarships.
She was born in the U.S., but spent so much of the time in Jalisco, México that she only learned how to speak English in the third grade.
“It was so different. It made me so sad because everyone was like ‘You’re born here; why don’t you know English?’ A lot of kids were discriminating,” said Jacqueline, a 3.88 GPA student.
“When I finally got the courage to speak, it was in my fourth-grade year. People still made fun of my accent, but I continued to talk. I watched TV because it was a good way to learn. I watched English shows like PBS kids.”
Jacqueline has since assimilated to school that she is now active on the student body council at Farmersville High. Throughout high school, she was in ASB Club (Associated Student Body), which set up numerous school functions.
She also played basketball and volleyball for the Aztecs.
Jacqueline, a liberal studies major who will minor in Spanish, wants to return one day to the Central Valley to teach.
Jacqueline said her parents had no education, but understood the importance of obtaining a high school diploma. They figured living in the U.S. would help their kids get farther. Arturo worked on farms with his family to help make ends meet. Maria made clothes for workers.
“It was a sacrifice because they had to leave their home town, their house. So it was a big sacrifice. They left their families over there,” said Jacqueline, “And us seeing that made us do what we’re doing right now.”
Jacqueline follows her older brothers – Ángel Silva, a 2015 Farmersville graduate majoring in computer engineering, and Emmanuel Silva, a 2016 graduate majoring in car repair – to Sacramento. Miriam Silva, who is 11, is still in middle school.
Because Jacqueline worked the local fields, she clearly understands the hard work her parents have endured to help their children.
“I was 15 and in the fields in the oranges. They would not put me on the ladder, but the ones on the bottom of the tree and the ground; and the grapes, the mandarines. And I did tree nursery measuring and planting; digging them up to move around,” she remembers.
Aside from a Dell laptop and tutoring, Jacqueline will receive $5,000 each year to pay for her education.
“When I got the scholarship, I was just like, ‘Dad I got the scholarship,’ and he was like ‘No way,’ and like ‘have faith’ and ‘you’re doing a good thing’ was what he said,” she remembers.