I can say with 100 percent certainty that the reason I’m at the University of Massachusetts today is in no small part thanks to both of my parents’ encouragement, sacrifice, and hard work.
I grew up in a somewhat unconventional family. My parents, Xenia and Xavier, got divorced when I was four years old. My dad moved to Brazil not long after that, and we've lived in different places ever since.
Although my mom did all of the heavy lifting in raising the family in Bolivia, my dad has always been the best father he could be.
Ever the pragmatist, and knowing full well how valuable a US college education could be (he completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in the US), my dad’s goal has always been to provide my sisters and me with the best possible tools to build a better future.
So, when an opportunity for him to move to the US came up, he took it without a moment’s hesitation—despite having an already well established life in Brazil—for the sole purpose of giving my sisters and me the possibility of a better future through a US college education.
Now that I’m in my senior year of college, I though it was a good time to call my dad and reflect about the journey that brought me to UMass and how it looked from my dad’s perspective.
Here’s what he had to say.
Q: What did you feel when I got accepted into UMass Amherst?
A: I was very proud of you for getting accepted, and that your talent and experience had been recognized.
Q: Why did you think UMass Amherst would be a good place for me to go?
A: Because, knowing you, you’re a person with a high sense of justice and equality, and I wanted you to attend a university that was progressive, openminded, with a high respect for diversity and human rights. It was important to me that you, as a woman and an international student, were somewhere where you wouldn’t face discrimination.
Q: What advice did you offer during my college application process?
A: Education is an investment, not an expense. It was important to choose the right university, because it’s not only about the degree, but also about opening up opportunities through a network that would help you in your professional career.
Q: If you could go back, would you do anything differently when I was applying to colleges?
A: If I could go back, I would’ve become a Massachusetts resident. With me living in Rhode Island and working in Worcester, it would’ve made it easier to finance your education. But I wouldn’t change the choice of university.
Q: What were you most nervous about for me going to UMass Amherst?
A: It’s in a remote place…it seemed like it was far away from everything, and your experience is with big cities like Berlin [Germany] or even La Paz [Bolivia], and Amherst looked like a relatively isolated place. But I got proven wrong, because in big cities like Boston there’s so much to do, that college becomes just a part of the experience, whereas here, your college is 100 percent part of the experience.
Q: What did UMass do to reassure you that I was going to be okay?
A: The tour was so well-organized, and it showed us the many opportunities you would have to build your career, and customize your degree and education. That, and the fact that there was a club for everything…and with a lot diversity. There was such a wide spectrum of activities, that you could truly find any group that grabbed your attention and that motivated you.