I Am Alejandro Gonzalez…A Survivor!!!

During sixth grade, I wandered through my family’s plot at the local community garden. My mind was curious about a certain crop in our garden; it was unlike anything I’d ever seen, and to my surprise, it was an agave plant. This was the first time I saw a native Mexican grown crop. From then on, I spent hours learning about the diverse layers of crops in Mexico. When I returned to my garden and planted my heirloom blue corn, my understanding of Mexico blossomed with it. With each day, I discovered more about the ways the Aztec empire used the same crop to flourish, and although I’m not in Mexico, agriculture has been an avenue to reconnect and appreciate the minority ethnicity I come from.

Before leaning about Mexican agriculture, I didn’t fully appreciate the importance of where I came from. I thought learning about my culture wasn’t as important compared to other activities like school; however, reading about my ancestors’ inventions and native languages like Nahuatl, has allowed me to resonate with the sacrifices my family and ancestors made to have the opportunities I cherish today.

I took the passion and created a heritage appreciation group at my church, giving people a platform to speak and discuss interests in their own culture, as I did with mine. No matter the culture that was presented, there was something in common with all of us: our passion. I saw there is more than meets the eye with every person’s background you meet, and it allowed me to resonate with what they were teaching.

My desire for a deeper knowledge of Mexican agriculture only grew my fascination for what makes my heritage diverse, but it also gave me the viewpoint of seeing that others do the same with their culture. Not only did this appreciation help me with learning about other cultures, but also helped me with perspective.

During cancer treatment, I developed a phrase to face my challenges: “Life isn’t a math equation; you can’t solve for the unknown variables.” The unique perspectives for abilities I once took for granted like walking, sitting, and standing, helped me focus on variables I could change and not the ones I can’t. Such as participating in extra chemotherapy studies to help researchers understand the mental effects chemotherapy has on patients or educating friends and classmates about leukemia to show the effects of judging people when you don’t know their situation, as many did with me. Seeing leukemia as a strength and opportunity to help me grow, and not as a weakness, developed for my appreciation of what’s granted.

The Faith Hope and Love Jesus scholarship would provide me the opportunity of funding higher education at the University of Washington. Allowing me to have a larger platform to educate others as well as learn about other cultures through the rich diversity at the school. Wile also m allowing me to be a part of the Husky Pediatric Cancer Foundation at the University of Washington to help support other cancer patients by having someone to speak to with a similar experience.

~~Alejandro Hernandez

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