Emily De La Rosa is a Dallas College student studying business who hopes to transfer to the University of Houston after she graduates in 2023. The answers below have been edited for clarity.
Tell us about your journey to Dallas College.
After I graduated from high school, my dad was deported, so I started working to help my mom and family. I stepped into that breadwinner role. Eventually, my dad was able to come back and later I moved out of the home to live my own life. It was then that I came across Dallas College and really enjoyed my first semester experience. I was so amazed by the nature on campus and the people there. But I mainly fell in love with the Richland Campus because of the disability services. The people in that office were going above and beyond to make sure I had everything I needed in order to stay focused and on top of my work. And the professors have worked with me based on my accommodations.
In the midst of going to school and helping my family, I found my partner. My dad gave me away at my wedding on one condition: to not give up on my dream of finishing college.
I have one daughter. She just turned three! Being a mom can have its challenges while being in school, but it’s worth it.
Tell us about your disability and how has the college transformed your learning experience?
So, I am actually hard-of-hearing in both ears. Since I have hearing loss, I have to wear hearing aids to help. I have an FM system, which is a microphone worn by the teacher that connects directly to my hearing aids to help block out any background noise. I also get notes from the teacher about the lesson plans, so I know what to expect will be discussed in class. These notes are so helpful to me. I have a completely different learning experience from the typical student. There were many times I wanted to give up because I wasn’t understanding and not getting to where I wanted to be. But anything is possible if you put your mind to it and stay on track. I can actually say from my own experience, the academic center helps a lot.
Who or what is your inspiration to keep going?
Other than my dad, my daughter and family are my biggest inspiration. Even the people who bullied me in high school motivate me to keep pushing through, to shut down those lies they said about me. I had a hard time in high school, but now I know that not everyone is going to understand the struggles you go through in life. Me wanting to be a better person motivates me to continue on and be successful.
What goals do you hope to achieve after you finish college?
My dream is to create my own shoe line. I struggle to find cute shoes in my size since I’m petite. My shoe size is sometimes hard to find. I even have to get the biggest size from the kid’s section. But I honestly believe that if I have this dream, it can be possible. I also want to go back to school after I’m done with my associate’s to be a paralegal assistant, so I can help lawyers on the immigration side of things.
What advice would you give to other Latino students?
One of the mottos that I live by is that if you don’t do it for yourself, nobody’s going to do it for you. You are the creator of your own destiny. You create what you want your life to be. If you want a house or car, for example, work hard and do what it takes to save up and get those things. At the end of the day, it’s you and your struggles. So, if you don’t do it for you, nobody else will do it for you.
You’re unique. You make what you want out of life. You have to be your own motivator. If you feel like you can do it, go for it. Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back. You can only do so much if you set up yourself to believe and you stop letting other people have a say in your future.
Growing up, I’ve had some men in my life who were “machismo.” Since they are stuck with the same traditions and the way things had been previously done in our culture, they had this mentality that it needed to be the same and things couldn’t be different. But, it’s ok to do something different. It’s ok to break down barriers and stereotypes.
That’s why I want to finish my education. So I can open new doors, better doors, for the future of me and my family.
As you think of the day of your graduation, what would you want to tell your dad?
This is for you, dad. Para ti, apa. I can honestly say that it’s all for him and my family. And for graduation, I already know how I’m going to decorate my cap!