MORAGA -- Farmworkers are essential in ensuring fruits and vegetables end up in grocery stores and in your kitchen. But they face a number of challenges.
It's not an easy job, especially in the summer when it's hot. Mayra Jiménez has seen her parents work hard in the fields. She's done it herself too. She helps them in the summer.
KPIX met Jiménez when she was working on a corn farm in the East Bay. A couple of weeks later, she was packing up her things, preparing to start her sophomore year at Saint Mary's College of California.
"My journey to Saint Mary's was not as other people have it," said Jimenez.
The small, private college in Moraga reached out to her and ended up offering her a scholarship. But getting to this point was anything but easy.
"When I got here, I did not know any English. Probably just, 'hi,'" Jimenez said with a smile.
She came to the U.S. with her family about 10 years ago. Along with the difficulties of learning a new language in another country came bullying from her classmates.
"I did get bullied from not knowing English," Jimenez said. "People would make fun of me because sometimes I would wear the same clothes or the shoes weren't branded."
Her parents became her inspiration.
"I just knew I wanted to give my parents a better life someday in the future," she said.
And her critics became her motivation. That included a teacher in school.
"She actually told me that I was never going to learn English," Jimenez said. "Today, just being able to speak fluent English and going to Saint Mary's and all of these achievements, it's a big boost for me."
Jimenez participates in a program for low-income students, but that means she has to maintain a certain GPA.
"It's definitely a lot on my plate, but I can deal with it," she said.
She's thinking of studying finance with a minor in leadership because she'd like to have her own business.
"Someday be able to help my parents out financially and hopefully get them out of work someday from the fields, they're my inspiration," she said.
She reminds herself of that every day. In her room at home, she has her high school graduation cap hung up on her wall. It reads "Gracias a Dios y a mis padres, lo logré." It means "Thanks to God and my parents, I did it."
They continue to be her drive as she walks the hallways of Saint Mary's.
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