Antonio is a former HACC adult education student and current Harry S. Truman College student. He excelled in HACC’s ESL and GED courses, and just won a prestigious scholarship from The Seabury Foundation. The scholarship can be applied to tuition, books, transportation and day care (if needed). This is Antonio’s compelling application letter that HACC turned into a blog post. Please take a read!

“What is your aspiration in life?”, Moon Parker, Adult Education Coordinator at Howard Area Community Center, asked me once while I was in one of my GED classes. My aspiration in life is to be happy. But, what is happiness for me? I did not have an answer for that question. My name is Antonio B. Gilliland. I am a student at Harry S. Truman College and I am pursuing an associate’s degree in Business and Administration. I was born in the capital of México and I moved to the USA in 2006. That is how my search for happiness begins.

My life has changed drastically in the last decade. I left behind my country, along with my family, friends, language and culture, to find better opportunities for me and my loved ones– all only for one purpose, to help my family in México.

I was feeling frightened about confronting the reality of living in a different country. I was doubting about my capacity of survival in a different land, which I slowly discovered that without the proper education, along with the difficulties of being part of a minority ethnic group, it was going to be impossible to reach my dreams.

I lived in Alabama for almost ten years. I was excited about my new life and I found a job cleaning cars. It was not the job that I was expecting to find, but at least I was going to start earning money. Unfortunately, I realized that without knowledge of the English language it was going to be hard to find something different. To change this situation, I decided to take some English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Of course, my language began to change. My English was improving and so was my life as well. From working as part of the staff at a car wash to being a bilingual bartender in a Tex-Mex Restaurant.

I was feeling great with myself knowing that I was conquering one of the biggest challenges of my life: learning a different language. But even though I was accomplishing some of my long-term goals, I felt something different inside me. I was feeling incomplete. It was my desperate need for success. The year 2015 was what I called my lucky year. I got married and I moved to the greatest city in Illinois– Chicago. I decided to enroll in GED classes, and in 2016 I started helping the class. My teacher asked me the most important questions that I have ever been asked: “What are your academic aspirations? What are your short and long term goals?”. I did not have an answer. Since then, my brain has started to work day and night trying to find an answer, not for my teacher, but for myself.

I created a path to follow and Truman College helped me to have a clear idea of what I need to reach my goals. I love people and I love to be helpful. I want to become a Human Resources Manager because I find all the relationships between an employee and the employer very interesting. Also, thanks to my sociology professor Madeline Troche-Rodriguez, PhD and the sociology class that I recently took in my spring term, I developed a passion for the study of society and the relationship to individuals. My goals are set and my enthusiasm is growing just thinking about having a better life for me and my family.

I want to be able to help some other students or other people who have the same desires as I do. I want to be able to help my community, because I believe that we are all created equal and everyone deserves to be treated with respect and equality. I want to demonstrate to the USA that Latinos, African-Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and people of other races have so much to offer and we all can be part of the greatest nation in the world; to demonstrate that black lives matter; to fight against xenophobia; to fight against bullying; and to fight for what is right!

*Dempsey Travis was a civil rights lawyer, real estate entrepreneur, and historian and author writing extensively on African-American history, politics, social issues, and music.

*The Seabury Foundation has generously granted $6,000 scholarships to HACC since 2000. The grant provides “full or partial support of one or two students who are mature with clear educational and career goals and who may not qualify for other financial aid and who with this scholarship will be able to attend full time or nearly full time.”