Written by Carmen Stricker, Contributing Writer of Nosotros Los Latinos Magazine |
Ivan Macias is currently a junior at Saginaw Valley State University majoring in Political Science. Raised in Detroit and graduating from Cesar Chavez Academy in 2013, Ivan, never thought about attending SVSU until he realized the scholarship opportunities he qualified for would cover a large majority of his tuition and housing. After completion of two years, he now feels that attending SVSU was the best thing that could have ever happen to him.
At Saginaw Valley State University, Ivan believes he has been given more opportunities than he would have been offered at other schools he was considering. At SVSU, Ivan says, “I’m not a number. I am Ivan Macias. And that is how faculty see me, as a person. Faculty meet with me one on one and are willing to help me. I love the fact I can speak directly to a professor and they encourage me to join organizations and become involved. Actually it was a faculty member, Dr. Stewart French who took the time to talk with me about my personal and professional goals and thru these conversations, ended up encouraging me to change my major from accounting to law. He made me see it was more important to go into a career I was passionate about instead of a career just to make a lot of money.” After graduation in May 2017, Ivan plans on attending law school at either University of Michigan, Wayne State, or University of Detroit Mercy.
At SVSU Ivan has become involved in many different organizations, which he feels is helping him build skills needed to be successful at law school. He is currently the President of the Latino Awareness Association and the member of several organizations including Phi Sigma Alpha, the Law Club, College Democrats, Modern United Nation, and Moot Court. Ivan is very proud of his participation in Moot Court, a student-led program that simulates an appellate court hearing in front of the United States Supreme Court, where SVSU ranks 15 th in the nation. Besides involvement in organizations, Ivan feels the staff of SVSU has really played a role in helping him with life’s challenging. He really credits Kathleen Chantaca-Kubczak, Administrative Secretary and Advisor to the Latino Awareness Association, in helping him adapt to SVSU. He explained that Kathleen went out of her way to introduce him to the local Hispanic community such as restaurants and grocery stores where he can purchase some of the comforts of home. Ivan said, “Kathleen even looked out for me when I had a toothache and got me help. It is the simple things that made me feel at home at SVSU.”
Obtaining an education has not only been a dream of Ivan’s but has also been a dream of his parents. A dream not necessarily obtainable in their home country of Mexico. Ivan was born in 1995 in Venustiano Carranza, Michoacan de Ocampo, Mexico. Pursuing opportunities, his parents crossed the border into the United States soon after his birth leaving Ivan in the custody of his Grandmother while they look for employment in California. Ivan was later brought over in 1997 by a Coyote through the border town of Tijuana. His family stayed a few years in California before his Dad moved the family to Detroit for better job opportunities.
Hard work was taught very early to Ivan by both his parents. His dad currently works as a janitor and his mother moved her way up from a bus person to a manager of a restaurant. Ivan began working in 8 th grade as a bus boy and stocking shelves from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. He was taught to work and study hard and that it will pay off in the end. Ivan gives special praise to his mother who he said, “Has taught me to be a good son, good person, and one day, a good husband. Everything I know, she has taught me. She comes home exhausted from work but always has time to talk to her children to listen and encourage us. She instilled in me my good work ethic. And I am extremely grateful to her for that.”
Besides working toward his educational goals, Ivan is also working on obtaining his US Citizenship. Ivan currently has a DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, card which allows him to legally stay in the United States to work as he attends school. He explains that there are some requirements such as he does have to register for the Selective Service, is taxed like everyone else but is not entitled to any federal benefits. As he continues his path to citizenship, he realizes that nothing is guaranteed. He keeps a keen eye on the Presidential Campaign and the actions of Congress but tries not over think the results. “My biggest fear,” says Ivan, “is not getting deported; it is not having enough money to finish my degree. I don’t qualify for FASFA so what isn’t covered by scholarships my parents pay for. My Dad says he doesn’t care how hard they have to work in order to pay his tuition, as long as I get an education.”
Advice that Ivan passes on to other students is to work hard and apply early for scholarships. And in regards to one’s culture and family life, Ivan believe that everyone should hold their head up and be proud of who they are. “I am very proud of my culture and I always hold my head up with pride that I am from Mexico, I will never be embarrassed,” Says Ivan. Ivan’s advice to everyone is, “To embrace your culture. Don’t be ashamed of who you are. If you’re Mexican be proud of being Mexican. If you’re black be proud of being black. If you’re white, be proud of being white. Never let anyone make you feel ashamed.”
This article has been reprinted, with permission, from Nosotros Los Latinos Magazine