OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Most parents hope that when a child goes to college they hear from them at least once in a while. For Abigail Santiago, calling home is a daily comfort, both for her and her family.
Abigail’s mother, Erika Santiago, makes time for FaceTime with her oldest child every day.
“She is my support, my strength and my pride,” says Erika of her daughter. “I’m very proud of her because she did things that other young colleagues may not have done.”
That strong bond is so important to this mother and daughter who have been through so much. Erika was just 20 years old and was living alone in the United States when Abigail was born.
Desperate for help, Erika brought her newborn daughter to Mexico to live with her family while she returned to her job in the United States
Abigail lived in Mexico for the next 7 years until Erika was finally able to bring her to California. At the time, Abigail only spoke Spanish and the transition in school was tough.
“I was in second grade, yes. When I got here, I was about to be eight, ”Abigail recalls. “There was even a time when I went home, I remember going home and saying to my mom, ‘I never want to go to school again. All of these kids make fun of me. As if I would never learn that language. ‘ There have been many times when I just wanted to give up. “
Giving up wasn’t an option. Because the education of Abigail has always been the top priority for Erika.
“I remember hugging her and telling her, ‘You will learn. It takes time. You have to go to school. This is your country. You were born here and you belong here ‘”, Erika remembers Abigail’s fights at school. “And she said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.'”
“I’ve started learning English!” Said Abigail.
With Erika’s support, Abigail did just that and much more. She mastered English within two years. In sixth grade, Abigail made the Oakland Unified School District’s Latino Student Honor Roll.
It was an achievement that she held on to until she graduated from high school. And now she’s an aspiring junior studying psychology at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, working as a scholarship holder in the admissions office.
“[It was] a brand new place that I had no idea what it looked like, ”explained Abigail, who was in college.
Abigail’s college success is also the fulfillment of her mother’s dream and something the whole family can celebrate when Abigail’s calls come in.
“Every decision she has ever made, everything she has ever done,” Abigail said of her beloved mother, Erika. “She always thinks of us first. And how it will help us, and that just makes them happy. “
Erika is also inspired by Abigail, who is hoping to graduate from college and continue her educational journey.
“I told you [my children] that the best I can give them is school. ”Erika explained.