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Viviana Vallin

Coming from a large Mexican-American family, I am accustomed to our lively gatherings. They include loud conversations, lots of dancing and enjoying the company of many tias, tios, cousins, and friends.  I never feel that I am living in an isolated environment because someone from my family is always there. I have always seen this as a blessing. Recently, I discovered how much I consider my family when making decisions about my life. My challenge has been separating what I want to be happy with what I feel would make my family happy. This is part of what has brought me to a crossroads.

Since I was young, I told my family I wanted to become a veterinarian. This was already a far-fetched dream in a family where very few had the opportunity to finish high school. I was fortunate enough to graduate high school and then pursue a science degree at LMU. I created a path to reach my destination of attending veterinary school. My parents and extended family always expressed how proud they were of me and encouraged me to continue following my dream.

Along the way to veterinary school, I became involved in service with youth. I found that although I enjoyed working with all ages, my favorite age group was high school students. I remembered what it was like for me at that age. Even though I was considered smart, I would not have taken the next step without the help of mentors and role models. I have always found reading education literature about Latino students in higher education to be fascinating. Although I was a science student at LMU, I managed to create a senior thesis that involved surveying minority high school students about their attitudes and knowledge of a veterinary career. Looking back at this now I realize how meaningful the project was for me.

I know that I have an interest and passion for veterinary medicine. However, having limited time to engage in service and working with students during vet school has made me feel like something is missing.  After two years in veterinary school, I am taking a leave of absence for a semester to carefully think about what I want.

It is possible that I will once again choose a career in veterinary medicine and return to Penn in the Spring. It is a meaningful career that has so much positive potential. It is a well-respected profession and I would be able to earn a good living. I can see myself caring for the animals that are part of my family’s lives. This matters because it is important for me to feel like I am making my family proud and to share my success with them.

It is also possible that I decide to pursue a degree in Education and directly focus on helping students achieve their goals and dreams. I cannot share with you what the future holds for me at this moment. I only want to share my path as I search for my true career passion. Sometimes we reach a crossroads where we choose to change direction or maybe just reassess our direction. It requires shutting out all of the external influences, including my family. It will involve listening to my heart and looking back at the experiences where I have truly felt fulfilled.

I am realizing that my family above all wants me to be happy. As Educated Latinas, one of our greatest sources of strength will always be family.  However, the sacrifices our grandparents and parents made were to give us the gift of opportunities. The single best opportunity is to pursue our own passions and share the happiness this brings in us with others.


1 comment

Jennifer Mejia / August 6, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

Love it Viviana! I have been in a similar situation before and I can empathize with you. You are so right that our family just wants to see us happy and sometimes that happiness comes with doing the unthinkable. As I wrote in the personal legend series what matters most is what makes us happy and what we are truly passionate about; what is in our heart. If, in fact, you realize that you are equally passionate about animals and the youth, then there is NO reason why you can’t combine both things into creating a career you love. Sometimes we have to think outside the box. I won’t wish you luck in choosing a road because I know you will, but what I will do is say that we don’t always have to choose a road that is created. We can create our own!

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