I was the oldest child of 10 children born on May 27, 1931 to Carmen and Guillermo Gonzalez, migrant farm workers in Hanford, California. From a very young age I became aware of the differences between people of color and Caucasians. I saw and felt these differences in schools and in the way people of color were treated within the general populace.
My first hurtful experience was as a young girl graduation from 8th grade. The school was small, with a graduating class of only two Caucasian students and myself. It was decided that I was to go with them to shop for a graduation dress. On the day we were to go shopping they left early and left me behind. I was so hurt. My lesson on discrimination or prejudice came early. My parents moved the family to St. Helena, California in 1948. I was on the California Scholarship Federation honor roll. I graduated from St. Helena High School in 1950.
In 1946 I met Ynes Carranza Zavala whom I later married in 1950. We settled in Stockton, California and raised our four boys, Edward, Randolph, Mark and Ynes Jr.; they were my primary focus. I worked part-time, at Diamond Walnut as my children grew; so did my hours of work. However, my goal was to ensure that my sons would be good productive citizens in life. Which was ACCOMPLISHED! This is my greatest success.
During my sons’ school years I noticed things had not changed much within the Latino Community. That is to say, I saw my children continue to move forward with their education, whereas many other Latino children dropped-out during the first two years of high school. My thought and desire was to help my fellow Latino parents with an understanding of the importance of a good education was for their children. My desire to return to school was fueled by this thought.
In 1984, when my youngest son, Ynes, Jr., was in high school I returned to school, where I entered my first year at San Joaquin Delta College. Unbeknownst to me, this would be only the first left of my journey to fulfill my heart’s desire. I received my Associate of Arts Degree with Honors in 1990. I and two other “Golden Girls” (as we were referred to by one of our deans because we were the oldest students in his class!) went on to University of the Pacific. Here I was to receive my Bachelors of Arts Degree in 1993. But wait! Not finished yet! My husband told me, “Go finish. Get your Masters Degree!” With my husband and sons’ support, I attended California State University Stanislaus.
At this juncture, I want everyone to know I did not do this by myself. I owe my husband, Ynes, who was my friend, my rock and my center, my deepest gratitude. He fought significant health challenges, and on March 30, 1998, Ynes died and although he did not live to see the completion of my thesis, he was always with me in heart and spirit. Through it all, he gave me his unfailing support, understanding and love daily. After his death, my adults sons supported me in completing my Masters Degree. In 1999 I received my Masters Degree and fulfilled my lifelong desire and dream of knowledge through education. I now use this gift to bring knowledge to my sons, grandchildren, family and friends, and continue to serve the Latino community and those interested in achieving their dreams of higher education.