Maria Graciela Vasquez
Graciela was born in 1954 in the village Banamichi, Sonora to an American mother and a Mexican father. Her family farmed in the ejido (communal agricultural land) of La Mora outside of Banamichi until she was 9 years. Seeking better fortunes, the family moved to an agricultural area outside of Hermosillo, Sonora where her parents and older sibling worked as seasonal farm laborers. The family then moved to San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora due to the large agricultural industry in the area on both sides of the Mexican and American border.
They found many employment opportunities and with her mother's American citizenship, the family was able to immigrate to the U.S. in short order. The family settled in Somerton, Arizona, just south of Yuma. Graciela's parents worked as seasonal farm laborers as did she and her siblings during school breaks. Graciela completed 8th grade in Somerton, but did not go on to high school n order to work fulltime to help with the family finances. Her parents instilled in her a belief that education was the key to a better life and even after her marriage, kids and eventual divorce, when the opportunity presented itself; she earned her GED at the age of 30. She became a naturalized citizen the year after that. She continued to support her children by working as a migrant field laborer, working in the lettuce industry and making the yearly track to Salina, California in the summer and back to Yuma in the winter.
Through her hard work and self sacrifice, Graciela completed a training program and became a Certified Nurse Assistant and at the age of 38, finally said good-bye to the lettuce fields. Over the course of the years, she continued her education, becoming trained as a phlebotomist and eventually as a Medical Assistant. She showed her children that education does make a difference and instilled in them the same belief in the power of education that her parents had implanted in her.
Graciela's children took the lesson to heart and all went on to post-secondary educational institutions, one to a trade school and three to the University of Arizona where one is seeking an undergraduate degree, one has earned a B.S and is seeking an M.S and one has earned a B.S., M.S. and is seeking a Ph.D.