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We Are Dallas College: Orlando Silva

Last updated on September 27, 2022

Orlando Silva
School of Engineering, Technology, Mathematics and Sciences

What was your journey coming to Dallas College?

When I finished high school, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of college. Going to a university was too expensive for me, so I got started in the workforce. I got decent jobs, so I continued to think that school wasn’t for me. As time went on, I felt this empty feeling in my soul. I didn’t feel complete or that I was fulfilling my potential as a person. When I came to Dallas College, I really focused on getting A’s and did everything I could to do well. I wondered what was next for me after achieving good grades because there was still this lack of fulfillment. That’s when I ran into clubs like PTK (Phi Theta Kappa) and SGA (Student Government Association). I met people from different cultures, landed leadership roles on campus and networked with people who were like-minded. It was then when I understood why I needed to be in college.

Where is your family originally from?

Both of my parents immigrated to Texas from Mexico. My mom is from Guadalajara and my dad is from San Luis. For my parents, it’s been a learning curve. Not only were they raising a child, but they were getting used to the culture here in the U.S. My mom didn’t finish elementary school, and my dad didn’t finish high school. So, I didn’t have the influence of someone telling me to pursue higher education. But they did encourage me to have a hunger for knowledge. There was this one time I was trying to do my math homework and my mom was apologizing to me because she told me she couldn’t help me. But she expressed how she believed in me. That time will always be engraved in my memories.

Why do you take pride in being a first-generation student? And what are some challenges you’ve had to face and how have you overcome them being first gen?

I take pride in the fact that I’ve learned a lot of things on my own, such as applying for college and learning about financial aid and scholarships. I have a great sense of independence because of all that. Even though it would have been nice to have someone who has gone through the college process to help me, I’m learning to embrace this journey of learning on my own and finding the right resources and people to help me. For me, I grew up in an urban neighborhood that wasn’t the best. So, when I go back to visit my parents and neighbors, I like visiting the kids in the neighborhood especially because it gives me an opportunity to inspire and encourage them to stay in school. I want to be the role model I wish I had. And understanding the rough path my parents took to get us here, I want my parents to see that there’s more to life than just working constantly and having to struggle. And to do this for them because of what they’ve done for me, I’ll never take it for granted.

Orlando Silva shares family photo.

What interests are you most passionate about? What makes you light up?

For engineering, we’re currently working on a design project for one of my courses by creating a model. Beyond that, I’ve participated in several marathons where I’ve won medals. I’m also passionate about martial arts.

What makes you proud to be Hispanic?

I’m proud of how far we’ve come as a group of people, and how we’ve overcome obstacles. The Spanish language, too. It’s always great connecting with another Spanish speaker and sometimes hearing the different dialects of the language. Being able to connect to other Spanish speakers, even if they have different dialects of the language, is something I’m really proud of. And the food, too! I love Mexican food like tacos, menudo and pozole.

What’s a stereotype of Hispanic people that is untrue?

The idea that all Hispanics are laborers. That we’re mainly painters or gardeners or something like that. Or that if you’re Latino, that means you immigrated here to America. I’ve been asked before when I came to this country.

When you think about leaving a legacy and being a role model, what does that mean to you?

The more I’m involved with organizations like PTK and the more networking I build, I’ve realized there are many different outlets that help underprivileged students and the community. In terms of leaving a legacy, I don’t necessarily want to be remembered as being a big name but to be remembered for impacting others’ lives in a positive way. To make a difference in how others live their lives for the better.

What advice would you give to others who are in the same shoes as you were?

One thing I like to remember is that struggling or being challenged is part of the process of life. At first, you may not get the results that you want or are uncertain about the path you’re on. But that’s OK. That’s part of the progress. When you go through something and you’re uncomfortable, you’ll get more opportunities to grow as a person if you push on that discomfort. You’ll be able to look back and see what you’ve accomplished.

What’s next for you?

I’m going to be transferring to UTD after the Spring semester. I’m looking to go into mechanical engineering, specifically mechatronics technology. I’m still a little uncertain what my career will be, but I think there is more there than just getting a job. There’s more that I want to do with helping the community.

Why do you get excited with your passion for mechatronics in mind?

With mechatronics, you’re virtualizing everything. This technology helps make everything around you have internet connection and has a way of being measured. Ultimately, helping people in ways we didn’t think of in the past. I think there is a realm there that we have yet to tap into that will help connect people in new ways that we’ve never seen before.

What advice would you give other students?

If you’re going through motions of not being sure about your future or don’t have the support system you wish you had, look for strength in yourself. Don’t just work and go through the motions. Find something that you love. Something that is not only going to be beneficial for your future but for your health, mind and heart. Things that actually make you feel better about yourself. Once I started pursuing things, I’m passionate about, I looked to myself for pushing myself and to keep going. So, while you can look to others, look within and you might just find something bigger than you expected.

Published inWhy Dallas College?