By: Jessica Rosas
The United States of America is well known as a country of freedom and a better life. Many come to find a job and to provide for their family. Many go to school and get jobs and as time passes they start developing their educational opportunities and work ethic. Ms. Miriam Beltran is currently a Spanish teacher at College Park High School and living the American dream. She was born in Mexico City and before she came to the States in the 1980s she was studying psychology in Mexico and living in a small apartment with her daughter and her husband who she met in high school in her English class.
Her husband worked as an engineer at an Institute of Petroleum in Mexico as well. Meanwhile, Beltran was working two jobs to pay her tuition. Initially, her grandma was paying her tuition, but because she got married her grandma decided it was time for her to start paying it on her own.
The idea of coming to the United States started with her husband when his company began recruiting employers to go to the United States and work for the company that was established there.
“My husband thought about the opportunity to go to another country and give our family a better life” Beltran said.
He applied for the job and weeks later a representative from the company in the US went to Mexico to interview him, but he was also told that he had to go to the US for another interview.
“We flew to southern California with our tourist visa for 4 days to learn more about the place he would possibly be working at,” Beltran said.
The company paid for everything, they went to Disneyland, and visited some amazing places in Los Angeles. After those four days they went back to Mexico and talked about their new life they would have in the States.
In 1989, once they agreed on the contract and salary, the company sponsored him to help him get a proper visa to work as long as he agreed to a 3 month observation period. While her husband worked, Miriam would be looking for an apartment to live in because they were staying in an hotel for 3 weeks. Beltran actually got sick when she was in California.
“I got extremely sick because I started drinking tap water which is different from Mexico, and I was not used to it even to this day I still gets sick if she drinks tap water,” she laughed.
While Beltran and her husband were in the US, they missed their daughter and would send her letters, but they thought she deserved a present so they bought her a Nintendo Gameboy which she loved. After three months passed, they decided they wanted to stay for the long term, but Miriam left to Mexico because she missed her family. The plan was for Beltrans husband to stay three years to continue with the project.
“We decided to wait for my daughters school year to end to bring her with us to the United States, two weeks after her birthday,” Beltran said.
In the States they were renting a place one block away from her husband’s office because at that time they didn’t have a car and they didn’t want to walk a long distance.
“I liked the place we were living in because it reminded us of Mexico,” Beltran said.
She got her first job in the States babysitting her neighbor’s kid. Throughout the year Beltran travelled back and forth to Mexico to visit her family and to finish her degree. While she was on one of her trips in Mexico, she found out she was pregnant with baby number two, and with this amazing news she was so happy. Her pregnancy did not stop her from continuing her education.
“I finished my thesis while pregnant and by the time my son was born, we had moved six times,” Beltran stated.
After three years Beltran received her Green Card and became pregnant again with her youngest son. Six years later her husband’s company started a new company in Concord, California.
According to Beltran, “the company asked my husband if he wanted to move and to start working there. He wanted to explore and grow more, so he said yes and our family moved to Pleasant Hill.”
Moving to a new neighborhood was hard, but fun at the same time. Her daughter was just starting high school and her youngest son was starting elementary school. Beltran would volunteer at her son’s elementary school, but as her children grew she wanted to start working.
“I thought of going back to study psychology, but if I went back I would have to repeat everything I learned. I also thought about my daughter who was going to college soon, and we would have to save money for her so I decided not to return,” Beltran said.
While volunteering, her son’s teacher told Beltran to become a teacher because she was so good with children. Beltran started working to get her teaching credentials. She had two classes per week and on Saturday she would have to go to school. After all her hard work, Beltran became a 1st grade teacher at Cambridge Elementary School where she taught for eight years. She loved the school and the high population of Latinos and Hispanics that attended. After eight years at the elementary school level, she moved to College Park High School where she has taught for 11 years and she has enjoyed every single year.
“I even have students who were In my first grade class that are now seniors in my Spanish class,” Beltran said, and all of her kids are graduates from College Park.
Even though she has lived an amazing life teaching, the hardest year was losing her youngest son to cancer. Beltran was devastated and the tragedy broke everyone’s heart. Her son was loved by everyone. Her family is now grown and her daughter has two daughters of her own, and she has received two majors from UC Berkeley and her master’s from Michigan State. She is currently working as a social worker in the University of California system. Her middle son is studying Computer Science at UC Davis. He was devastated of his brother’s death and had to take time off, but he has since returned.
Even though she had challenges and suffered the loss of her son, she continues to be an amazing person.
According to Beltran, “The hardest problem of being from another country was not having a lot of privileges as others.”
She has persevered and she has become stronger due to her many international and personal experiences. Her students love her because of how humble she is and how she gets along with everyone. Her story proves that despite your background and experiences, with hard work and perseverance, you are able to find your place and be successful.