Gabby Aguirre & Catherine Stay


Gabby Aquirre Photo

Family educational history

Gabby’s mother, Catherine, shares information with her daughter about her own experiences growing up. 

 

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Family educational history

Gabby: Daughter
Catherine: Mother

Catherine: I’d have to say ‘cause I was kind of the black sheep and rebel of the family, you know, my, my sister and my brothers were, all of them did very well in school, finished high school, got their education, and I was like, “Woo, I’m playing hooky,” and, um, for me I think it was more because I was just that type of personality, that I didn’t take well to authority or being told what to do. So, for me, going to school was like, “Ehhh, I don’t need to do that,” and I just did my own thing. [Chuckles.]

Gabby: Can you tell me more about what those things were?

Catherine: Just pretty much I preferred to just kind of, I would be driven to school by my older brother – your Uncle Warren – and instead of going to school I would just walk home and go stay home and watch TV or – this was as a teenager not as a little, littler kid now – but once I got to kind of that 7th, 8th grade, 12, 13 year age, to me, I would’ve rather hung out with my friends who were getting into the same trouble I was, and I didn’t really care about school, I just didn’t have it in me at the time.

Gabby: Um, how can you say that that’s changed – or would you say that that’s changed over the years, and why do you think that is?

Catherine: We-well, it’s changed a lot because I, um, I do have some, you know, I have somewhat of a college education so I, I did go to school for a couple of years, I –

Gabby: That was at a community college, right?

Catherine: Yes. I went back to school when um my two oldest, your sisters Missy and Tiffany were babies and really little, got my GED [General Educational Development test], and then started college classes. And I kind of was on and off and on and off with it, but a lot of that was because I was still having, you know, at that time I was just starting to have kids. There’s five of youse, so it was like school and work and then back to school and then giving up school to go back to work ‘cause I really didn’t have a choice at that time. Hence, why I probably should’ve finished my education when I was younger, and I probably would not have struggled so much when you guys were growing up, you know? I wish I would’ve finished, I love, I would love to go back to school.

Note about copyright, attribution, and citation:  StoryCorps holds the copyright to the audio recordings of interviews and to the photographs of the participants; StoryCorps has licensed limited use of those to the Bureau of Study Counsel/Harvard University.  Harvard University owns the copyright to all other material on the First-Gen Voices website (bsc.harvard.edu/first-gen-voices).  Quotations of the transcripts and translations of interviews from the website by parties other than StoryCorps and the Bureau of Study Counsel should be attributed/cited as follows: “This excerpt is from a website created by the Bureau of Study Counsel of Harvard University with interviews recorded by StoryCorps (www.storycorps.org), a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity's stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”


Gabby Aquirre Photo

Escapism: school and learning

Gabby discusses how going to school was an escape from what was happening at home.

 

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Escapism: school and learning

Gabby: Daughter
Catherine: Mother

Gabby: But that was kind of my form of escapism because for me school and like learning was the only stable thing in my life for a really long time. And even if like the specific school wasn’t stable because I moved to different schools, like, just learning generally was like, my way to escape what was happening at home. ‘Cause, you know, my mom, when we were younger, was working 70 hours a week. It was just, you know us five kids, my older sister raising us half the time. Um, and especially as we got older, my sisters got more into like drinking and, you know, all that kind of rebellious stuff, and I didn’t want that for myself because, you know, even at 13, 14, I saw what that did to other people. We lived in like a homeless shelter when I was 8 or – I think I was 8 or 9, and again when I was 12 or 13, and I just like [sniffles] I just remember seeing what you know alcoholism and drugs and all of that other stuff did to people and I didn’t want my life to be like that [sniffles]. And so, although I had to watch my sisters kind of go down that path, I knew that that’s something I didn’t want, and for me school was the only way to get away from that.

 

Note about copyright, attribution, and citation:  StoryCorps holds the copyright to the audio recordings of interviews and to the photographs of the participants; StoryCorps has licensed limited use of those to the Bureau of Study Counsel/Harvard University.  Harvard University owns the copyright to all other material on the First-Gen Voices website (bsc.harvard.edu/first-gen-voices).  Quotations of the transcripts and translations of interviews from the website by parties other than StoryCorps and the Bureau of Study Counsel should be attributed/cited as follows: “This excerpt is from a website created by the Bureau of Study Counsel of Harvard University with interviews recorded by StoryCorps (www.storycorps.org), a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity's stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”


Gabby Aquirre Photo

“We are making Harvard our own place”

Gabby talks about reaffirming her identity as a Latina and as a first-generation student.

 

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“We are making Harvard our own place”

Gabby: Daughter
Catherine: Mother

Gabby: My friend Veronica like, she helped me reaffirm my identity as a Latina and as like a first- generation student, and also just the first-generation community here like generally has just been really great. And, you know, before, like I never, like I, it was kind of embarrassing to be a first-generation student, like a, you know, someone whose parents never got a bachelor’s degree ‘cause it’s just like, especially when you’re juxtaposed to other people here whose parents have like, or are professors and are billionaires and have gone to college and went to Harvard, and whose like parents and grand- my, one of my freshman roommates, her father and her grandfather went to Harvard.

Catherine: Really?

Gabby: Yeah, they were both in the marching band, and like for me, at first, like it was, really, like, especially, I just remember freshman convocation – which is where they like have like an opening address to the freshmen – and I didn’t know what to wear and I saw everyone wearing like, way better clothes, and I was, I don’t, like from that day, I didn’t fit – I knew I didn’t fit in here, and I knew that Harvard was not made for me. But, my friend Veronica, and just like the Latinx and the first generation community generally like, they helped me affirm my identity and be proud of it. And like yeah, we know that Harvard wasn’t made for us, but we are making Harvard our own place, and I wouldn’t have that if it wasn’t for my friends and it wasn’t for the like, first-generation or the Latinx community here.

 

 

Note about copyright, attribution, and citation:  StoryCorps holds the copyright to the audio recordings of interviews and to the photographs of the participants; StoryCorps has licensed limited use of those to the Bureau of Study Counsel/Harvard University.  Harvard University owns the copyright to all other material on the First-Gen Voices website (bsc.harvard.edu/first-gen-voices).  Quotations of the transcripts and translations of interviews from the website by parties other than StoryCorps and the Bureau of Study Counsel should be attributed/cited as follows: “This excerpt is from a website created by the Bureau of Study Counsel of Harvard University with interviews recorded by StoryCorps (www.storycorps.org), a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity's stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”

first-gen voices

First Gen Voices

The Bureau of Study Counsel collaborated with StoryCorps to record conversations between first-generation-to-college Harvard College juniors and their parents (or other members of their family or community).

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