What does opportunity taste like to you? That’s a tough question to answer, right? But Udacity student, Miguel Flores Silverio, has an answer on the tip of his tongue! “I’ll never forget my first meal in America,” says Miguel, “It was a Burger King burger! I’d never had anything so rich and juicy in all my life!”
Miguel was just 14-years-old when he arrived in the U.S. His parents had been working in America and the family was separated for months at a time which was painful for all involved. Miguel’s parents worked hard, saving the money needed to bring him and his younger siblings to the US. Given his parents’ status, it was a risk but for them, it was a risk worth taking as they wanted to keep the family together and build a better future in America.
It was a harrowing journey for Miguel, “I can remember crossing the border and being scared — not so much for me but for my younger brother, he was only 5-years-old.”
“I remember the big White Suburban Van, the fear that we wouldn’t make it, the relief when we got to Los Angeles and saw grandma for the first time in years. My mother just gave a big sigh of relief. Phew! We made it!”
And then came the juicy burger!
Struggles on the Horizon
Despite the early taste of freedom, life in America wasn’t always easy for Miguel. “I couldn’t speak English,” he remembered. “We were undocumented… I couldn’t get any help in school. All I had was ESL (English as a Second Language) classes.”
“My parents worked very hard — in a restaurant, in a laundry, tough jobs — and I spent my time on a computer. I was interested in computer science because I could understand numbers even though I couldn’t speak English.”
Miguel’s affinity for computers wasn’t always understood. “We belong to a generation where work means sweat,” added Miguel’s mom, “so there was a time when we didn’t realize that he was working on his computer.”
Forging His Own Path
Miguel dropped out of school because he felt he wouldn’t be a success in college; his lack of English skills would hold him back. So he followed in his parents’ footsteps and began working in blue-collar jobs.
Miguel worked in a variety of jobs which opened his eyes to how hard his parents had worked, and how much they had sacrificed to bring him and his younger siblings to America, to give them this opportunity. Realizing the sacrifices his parents had made on his behalf, Miguel decided to honor them by forging his own path and working towards his dream of becoming a developer.
Luckily Miguel remembered Udacity, which had been mentioned to him by a past CS teacher. He first studied the Ruby Nanodegree and then went on to study a variety of other topics at Udacity including the Front End Nanodegree, and the Full Stack Nanodegree, each of which added to his understanding. “Udacity really helped me learn what I needed to know to work in Industry,” he says. “It was very hands-on. The projects were great!”
Contributing to Society
Miguel’s dedication to Udacity’s hands-on learning experience paid off handsomely. He has been working as a Software Engineer for the Superior Court of California in Salinas, County of Monterey for the past two years.
“I love my job,” adds Miguel. “I love that I can give back to the community. DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] helped me get a social security number, a license. I want to give something back to America for the opportunity it gave me!”
Miguel is now married, with a young son of his own. “Leaving Victor for a few hours a day is hard, and I realize how my parents suffered leaving their kids for months at a time,” says Miguel. “But thanks to my career as a web developer I can provide for my family in ways my parents could never provide for me. I’m so thankful to them for bringing me here and giving me the opportunities they never had!”
Malcolm X said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today!” Miguel believes in that sentiment — education was the portal that transported him to his dream job. And education is the foundation that allows him to provide a life for his young family.
The American dream has come full circle for Miguel — his parents came into this country hopeful of a better life, now Miguel works for the American government and provides for his own young family.
Whatever the taste of opportunity means to you — the taste of success, just like it is for Miguel, is very sweet.
Discover Your Path
If any of this resonates with your personal goals or ideals and you would like to study at Udacity, now is a perfect time to take your first step. Udacity has a variety of introductory programs including to Intro to Programming, Data Analyst, UX Designer and Digital Marketing.
Udacity is offering one month of free access to our 40+ Nandodegree programs to everyone in the US, Canada, and Europe. Anyone in these regions can sign up to benefit from 30 days of free learning. There are more offers coming for additional regions soon.
Sign up now and, like Miguel, discover your true calling in life.