Today I signed my enrollment agreement for Galvanize’s Web Development Immersive Program.
I’d like to say that the decision to become a software engineer was made a few weeks ago and that through hard work and dedication I secured offers to a few bootcamps. But the truth is that this decision has been years in the making. And that the catalyst now is need. A need to do more, be more, and give more.
When I graduated from Cal with few prospects in my field, I wasn’t discouraged, I leveraged my luck and my skills into a makeshift entry to the tech industry. In the corporate tech scene connections dictate outcomes, appearances can make or break a reputation, and technical skills are essential to be taken seriously. Despite all of this, I still merely played with the idea of becoming a software engineer.
Then trouble struck at a time that my life had reached a kind of homeostasis. Maybe this was the universe kicking me back into high gear. Very little changes when we are comfortable.
Life was great. I was a contractor in tech and I made enough money to live and garnish my savings. I even had enough money to make the trip to Argentina I had been dreaming of since I arrived at the age of 10. It’s hard to really really appreciate how special it is to live in the United States until you visit the land of what could have been. I credit the way I think and my beliefs on my environment and had I stayed in Argentina (and more specifically the semi rural town I was from) I would have grown up in constant instability and become a very different person.
The instability that comes from migrating to the United States can be quieted by the greater certainty of success and opportunity. The instability that comes from crime and poverty cannot be silenced.
I saw the life I could have had and it’s not terribly bad if I had nothing else to compare it to. But my greatest disappointment was seeing my parents live as they did. Afraid and disenchanted. I wish they hadn’t hidden the truth from me during our calls, but it was a truth I needed to see to understand.
Most of all, I wish I could have afforded to bring both of my parents back to the USA, but ultimately I had to choose my father. He was living in absolute filth. He was eating nothing but instant noodles. He had aged so much in only 6 years. He couldn’t communicate well. His close friendships were fraying. He had no work and no prospects of getting more. And worst of all: he slept with a cocked gun behind 3 locked doors, afraid of everything.
It was both deeply damaging and elucidating to see all of this.
I may be the youngest in my nuclear family and nearly the youngest in my extended family, but I see it as my duty to pay it forward because I have been very lucky thus far. I went to a 4-year university, I met amazing friends and role models, and I have been inspired at every turn by the zeal and kindness of strangers. Although my family didn’t pay for my education or help me while I pursued my degree, they made me who I am. They gave me what they could, when they could. It’s my responsibility to prove to them that the nagging feeling we have as immigrants, that “it gets better,” is 100% true.
So here I am, holding the ingredients for a better life, striving forward without fear. I’m going to become a software engineer. I’m going to pay it forward every step of the way. I’m going to ensure a good life for my parents. I’m going to start my own company one day. The world has a lot of room for improvement, so let’s watch with scrutiny and set lofty standards. The world also has a lot of beauty and joy, so let’s celebrate and emulate those leading the charge.
Thank you for being a part of my journey.