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Atwater High Senior's Determination To Succeed Breaks Barriers

Nancy Salmeron

When Nancy Salmeron was 15, her parents had raised enough money to send her to the United States for a better life. Nancy was actually born in the states, however her family had to move to Mexico when she was six due to the legal status of her parents. She says that the decision to move to another country without her parents was difficult, but she knew that it was the right thing to do.

“My parents always motivated me to pursue an education, but it was hard moving away from them,” said Nancy. “However, I decided to leave because I wanted to have a better future for myself and them.”

From meeting new people in a new environment to learning a new schedule and new set of social guidelines, the freshman experience can be daunting in and of itself. Nancy had the added hardship of not knowing any english at all when she began taking classes at Atwater High. She had a hard time understanding her teachers and wasn’t fitting in.

“Not knowing english was a barrier because I wasn’t able to take regular English classes or any advanced classes which could affect my transcript,” said Nancy. “Also, I wasn’t able to communicate with my classmates.”

Things also took a turn at home as her living arrangement wasn’t working out. Nancy found herself homeless, and unsure if she was going to even be able to finish school. Thankfully, another family took her in which allowed her to focus again on her studies.

Determined to make her family proud, Nancy took several ELD classes her freshman and sophomore years. ELD classes help English Learners improve their reading, writing and speaking so that they can take a traditional English class. By her junior year, Nancy was in a traditional English class. She also earned the Merced County Seal of Biliteracy for which she will receive a gold seal on her diploma.

Nancy took a college prep English course her senior year and she will be graduating with honors. Nancy will be the first in her family to attend college and is excited to start working toward a career in nursing.

As she reflects on how far she’s come and all she has been able to accomplish, Nancy says it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and encouragement of the AHS staff.

“I have faced several challenges over the past four years and the teachers and staff have always supported me,” said Nancy. “They were always pushing me to keep going.”

Nancy also says that the sacrifices her parents made so that she could come to the United States and get an education kept her motivated.

“Learning english was challenging and there were times when I just wanted to go back with my parents,” said Nancy. “But they were the reason I wanted to keep studying. I want them to be proud of me.”

Nancy is grateful for the opportunity she was given and says that getting to this point has given her confidence in herself.

“During the four years that I have been part of high school I have experienced many things,” said Nancy. “I have learned that life is not that easy, but I have the strength and determination to achieve my goals, no matter what hurdles I have to overcome.”

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