Stories about some of the people who are current or former residents of CHISPA apartments and homes.
This is an interview with Maria Miranda, a CHISPA resident of Roosevelt Street Townhomes in Salinas, California. The interview took place in October of 2018.
Why did you decide to attend UCSD? I only applied to schools that had a Human Development program, and after hearing back from all of the schools I applied to I was left deciding between attending UC Davis and UC San Diego. I visited both campuses (Davis more than once!), and although Davis had a beautiful campus, nothing beat the energy I experienced at UCSD. Of all the campuses I visited, UCSD was the only campus where the minute I stepped foot on the campus and had no idea where I was going, a random person approached me and asked, “Hi, can I help you get somewhere?” and they walked me to the campus tours center. Right away that made me feel like people actually care about you at this school. As the tour guide went around explaining the opportunities and resources available to students like me (first-generation woman of color), I felt like UCSD was the place where I was actually going to be set up to succeed. I loved the way their Human Development program was set up and actually felt like it was a campus where I could actually thrive. Plus, the weather was beautiful and the beach was walking distance away, so that was really like the cherry on top for me!
Major? Human Development.
Minor? I had two minors: education studies and linguistics.
Where you part of any clubs or interest groups? I was heavily involved with the Ballet Folklorico dance team, Ballet Folklorico La Joya de Mexico, and the Catholic Student Community as a Student Minister on campus. I was also the President of the Human Development Student Association. I was a College Ambassador for three years as well, where I served as a tour guide and worked alongside Admissions Officers, participated in university-wide recruitment events, regional recruitment events, calling campaigns, and student panels.
What’s your passion? To help people who are often overlooked, forgotten, or taken advantage of.
What are your plans for the future? I always get that questions, “What’s next?” and to be honest, I don’t typically find myself planning that far out into the future because I’ve learned that no matter what I try to plan out for myself, God always has something better. So for now, I’ll just share what it is that I am currently working towards. I’m currently engaged to a military officer, Edgar, who is currently stationed in Japan at Yokota Air Base. We met at church during college. Seeing as I am going to be a military spouse, that’s meant I’ve had to get creative when it comes to my career or whatever else my life is going to look like. I’m actually being sponsored right now by First Command Financial Services, and they are the financial industry’s state matter experts for military members and their families. They are sponsoring me to get all my licensing done so that I can become one of their Financial Advisors. The licenses I am getting are some of the most prestigious licenses in the financial industry (the series 7 and the series 66), and I will be serving military members and families while I am living in Japan and wherever else my fiance and I move to because First Command can be found just about anywhere there is a military base. Other than becoming a financial advisor, and moving every couple of years as a military spouse, my greatest plan for the future is to become the best wife I can be for my fiance and to become the best mother I can be to whatever kids God blesses me with.
What has inspired you? My parents have been my greatest source of inspiration. Just seeing how they selflessly give everything they have for me and my brothers is what has always pushed me to be my best and to give my all to everything that I do. I am also very inspired by Our Lady of Guadalupe and her ability to always say Yes to God and allow him to use her so willingly. I always strive to be a “yes” kind of girl like Our Lady.
What or who has shaped the person you have become? My faith, my family, and where I come from (Salinas) have been the greatest things to shape who I am. All of my morals and values and virtues come from my Catholic faith and have shown me how to be free and live with total joy and love. My family has given me everything I need to be successful and has shown me what sacrifice and hard work really looks like. My hometown, especially my neighborhood, has made me into the strong and resilient woman I need to be in order to succeed in a world where I am considered a minority.
Who has been your support circle? My greatest supporters have been my fiance and my family, followed by all sorts of close friends (mainly all from church). Without their constant check-ups on me or their encouragement when I’m stressed or anxious or feeling doubtful about my ability, I know I can always count on them.
What has been your greatest accomplishment? My greatest accomplishment thus far has been graduating from UCSD in 4 years, with honors, two minors, and zero regrets about my time at UCSD. I not only enjoyed and loved everything I was a part of, but I did everything I told myself I wanted to do and did it well. I managed to excel in my classes, all while actually enjoying what I was learning – I was one of those rare students that never change their major during college! There were times when I felt like I couldn’t do it, and I just wanted to go back home and be with my family, especially because I had to pay for everything all by myself all four years and had zero family members in Southern California, so I really was all by myself. I managed to pull through, however, and truly make the most out of my time at UCSD.
Do you plan to return to Salinas at some point? Although I love Salinas and am very proud to come from there, I don’t think I will ever move back there again. Remember, I’m engaged to an Active Duty military officer and home is going to be wherever the Air Force takes us. My fiance plans on making the military his career, so I’m looking at a minimum of 30 years in the Air Force. Seeing as there is no Air Force base anywhere close to Salinas, I actually will not have the option of ever moving back there. I do, however, plan on visiting when I can and once I am blessed with children, I do want to bring them to Salinas and show them everything that makes Salinas so wonderful.
What are your thoughts and feelings about affordable housing and the work that CHISPA does in our communities? UCSD is located in La Jolla, a very affluent city in San Diego County where the average house sells for $700k. You can imagine how expensive it was to live around here and still is. It wasn’t until I moved away from CHISPA and home that I was faced with the harsh reality that housing is not cheap, even if you’re just renting. I don’t know what my family and I would’ve done if it wasn’t for CHISPA and other affordable housing organizations like it that give people a roof over their head. Having a place to live is absolutely necessary just for normal functioning and development, especially for people with young children and the elderly. It makes me upset to know that there are so many vulnerable people out there going without a place to live because they simply cannot make ends meet financially, no matter how hard they work or how many hours of sleep they sacrifice to make more money or however many meals they skip to have enough money, etc. sometimes it’s still not enough. Living is expensive, and with the cost of living in California increasing, it’s becoming more and more crucial to build more communities like CHISPA. I am incredibly thankful that my family had a place at CHISPA, and although some of the CHISPA communities are found in “ghetto” neighborhoods, it gave me a place to truly call my home and to be proud of it.
Special quote you would like to share? “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherine of Sienna
From the CHISPA Newsletter, ‘Neighborhood Voice,’ Summer 2014
CHISPA Resident Spotlight:
Maria Miranda is soon to leave CHISPA’s Roosevelt Street Townhomes to attend college. Her accomplishments make all of us proud. Maria just graduated from Salinas High School in the top five percent of her class, with a 4.4 GPA.
“I loved my childhood at CHISPA. I met my best friends here.” Maria participated in afterschool activities in the Roosevelt Street Townhomes residents’ center. “CHISPA would bring an artist to teach classes. He helped me discover I liked art,” she said. In third grade, Maria entered a national drawing competition called “Este es mi Mexico.” “I applied what I learned in my CHISPA drawing class, and it helped me win the competition,” she said.
Maria’s father used to work packaging pasta and now works in the fields. Maria is inspired by farm workers like her dad. “I could never do that work. It is tough! I don’t understand why people constantly diminish them,” she said.
“My mother, Lupita Miranda, is my role model. She educated us…she taught me how to read before I started kinder,” she said. “My mom pushed me to do the GATE program, even though I did not want to. When I got in, I loved it, and I continued on with honors and AP classes,” she said.
Following her mother’s example, Maria has amassed over 1,000 community service hours. She was a participant in Multicultural Affairs at Salinas High, was part of the California Scholarship Federation and Commissioner of Publicity for Salinas High’s Associated Student Body. As Treasurer for the National Honor Society, Maria helped organize a campaign to collect 2,000 toiletry items for Dorothy’s Kitchen.
“I love how my family members carry their faith. They inspire me to do better in everything I try.” Maria serves in the youth ministry at Sacred Heart Parish. She is a leader of youth groups and is involved in the leadership camp.
Maria applied to UC San Diego, UC Davis, San Diego State, Sonoma, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Azusa Pacific University and was admitted to all of them! After graduation, she plans to teach children who are hospitalized. Her first step is to receive a BA in Human Development at UC San Diego. Maria is the first in her family to attend a four year university. “Being a leader is leading by example. I want to show other Latino students that anything is possible.”
“If someone tells you that you can’t do something, don’t believe them,” says Maria, as she packs her bags for college.