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Find your Voice

26 Jan Find your Voice

Today, we find that nearly 30 percent of the migrant population in the United States is from Mexico. This means that almost 12 million people live here in the U.S. that were born in Mexico. They migrate north for a chance at a better life; a chance to raise their family with better odds than they could obtain where they were. Carla’s family is one of them.

Growing up in Mexico, Carla was exposed to many hardships, ones that a child should never have to see or be a part of. In the midst of the violence that was erupting in Mexico, Carla and her family found themselves struggling to survive; lacking their basic everyday needs along with the money to get them. A few years prior to their move to the US, her father moved to Washington State to work so that he could provide for their family in Mexico.

But, their family found themselves still struggling.  Having inconsistent cash flow and children to feed, her mother began working as an attempt to try and help pay the bills and provide for her family. It wasn’t enough.

When Carla was 10, it became clear to the Barragan family that they should try to reunite and work together as a family in the United States.

That decision was the start for Carla’s transformation.




One thing that became clear very quickly, was that moving to Washington State was not the paradise they thought it was going to be. Many issues between her parents came to the surface, and it quickly effected their marriage, children, and Carla specifically.

It’s never easy coming to a new town, let alone a new country. New language, new friends, new home; in addition to her issues at home. Carla found herself feeling alone… hurt…silenced.  It was as if her voice was taken and never given back.

It became expected of Carla to go work in the fields with the expenses at home, as well as attend school full time and tend to her siblings. This exhausting routine eventually lead to loss of relationship with her mother, who had failed to be encouraging and nurturing for Carla and her siblings, and her father, who had emotionally abused and used them as well.  She couldn’t reach out for the help she needed, because she couldn’t communicate that she needed help. Her family habitually hid their problems which in turn caused her to feel the need to hide hers. Carla felt alone.

Carla had heard about the work-study empowerment program through the Collegium Café. Through the encouragement of the staff and the empowering leadership of Adrianna (the café manager at the time of her arrival), Carla began work in the café. She learned many things there in addition to serving customers good food, on time. She slowly learned that it’s ok to ask questions!  She began dreaming about what the future could look like for her.

Today, Carla has completed her CNA certification (with the help of fellow medical field student and current Cafe manager Nevresa), and starting this upcoming week is going to be working full time at her first ever CNA job, supporting herself independently. She now has the confidence to pursue her dreams.

Carla has found her voice.