Senior, Lizbeth Valdovinos is one of our beloved students at Mariner High School. Coming from La Ruana, Michoacan, Mexico, Liz has a very culturally distinct background. Liz is currently 18 years old and came to the U.S. at the age of 14. Throughout her life, Liz has faced a lot of hardship, from the death of her father, Pablo, to leaving her mother Cecilia, and the rest of her family when fleeing from her country.
“It was really hard leaving but I had to. After my dad’s death, my life was at risk and my only option was to leave. It was life or death,” says Liz.
Unfortunately, Liz’s father was involved in bad business, leading to his murder. After his death, Liz found herself in a dangerous situation. The very people who murdered her father were now after her and her mother. Liz was given the chance to leave, so she did. For the sake of her safety, her mother Cecilia could not come with her. Her older half-sister, Alicia is now her legal guardian and has swept Liz under her wing, allowing her to live with her family of 6.
“I knew I had to help. We both lost our dad and deep down I knew this is what he wanted for us, was to finally meet each other, regardless of the circumstances,” says Alicia.
Liz and Alicia had never met, hardly spoken. The death of Pablo was traumatic for them both but thankfully brought the two together. Alicia was the backbone of Liz’s journey. She helped acquire several immigration lawyers and fought hard to get her case approved.
“Alicia saved me. We had never met, yet she fought for me harder than anyone ever has. I am so grateful for her. She is the only one who has really helped me and thanks to her, I am soon starting the process to get my visa and green card,” says Liz.
Liz now happily lives with her sister/guardian and her family of 6. Leaving 14 years of life behind, without the ability to return is evidently a difficult and demanding situation to have to endure. Liz not only had to adapt to life in the U.S, but the idea of a new family, new school frightened her.
“I had hope, and that was the main thing that got me through it all. I was scared to leave my old life behind but excited to have new doors open for me and meet my new family.”
Having come from Mexico at 14, it was clearly an uphill battle when it came to learning English and adapting to our Mukilteo school district curriculum. Liz began attending Voyager Middle School in the 8th grade and has attended Mariner all 4 years of high school.
“Learning English was very hard for me. Especially when I was expected to jump right in and understand it all in school.”
Since then, Liz has watched several movies, shows, and listened to a variety of music that has greatly helped her to learn English and expand her vocabulary. Although she is not fluent, she s now able to successfully hold a conversation and understands a lot more.
“It was always so much easier to understand, than speak. By observing people talk and their body language, I think that played a big part in learning,” says Liz.
Her lack of English has never held her back, especially when it came to school. Liz has excelled in her previous 4 years of school in America and is on track to graduate in 2022. This October, Liz has applied for her FASFA. She strives to become a Registered Nurse and help our Everett community. With an outstanding amount of grit, Liz has not let the fact that she is undocumented become an obstacle in her education.
“Having a rough past and being undocumented shouldn’t define me. I’m going to work hard to achieve my goals, papers or no papers. I know I have the disadvantage but I really want to set an example for others like me. Just because something bad happened to you, that shouldn’t hold you back.”
Liz strongly believes that you can do whatever you set your mind to. With whatever background you have, it should never be allowed to turn into an obstacle. As much as Liz has been through, she still manages to wake up every morning ready for what’s next. She has relentless ambition and is very certain of her future. All that is left is to graduate; from there she will go on to college and create her story. If she can do it, so can you!