THE LIFE OF AN IMMIGRANT

Celia Barberena

Celia Barberena, Ph.D.

What does an immigrant have in common with everyone else? You know, people that are sympathetic to the infusion of immigrants into the US, and all that we bring, think that with us come our history, struggles, talents, passions, toil and work. Diversity of thought and perspective is thought of as healthy for these people. For others, immigration equals diluting what they think America should be. These divergent thoughts lead to heated debate throughout the land.

I think that immigrants have in common with native born what human beings have in common: birth; growing and learning – from family, community and schools; adulthood meaning: work, striving to succeed, raising and contributing to family and community; retirement and death. As I write about my life, the life of an immigrant, I want to share what I have in common with others, native born or not.

Destiny is used to describe a predetermined course of events in our lives. Is there such a thing as destiny? Or is our life determined by intentional decisions that we make to build our destiny or destination. I cannot say that I knew where I would be now 50 years ago. Was my path determined then? No.

My parents provided the means, advice and support for me to get a valuable platform from where to propel myself in what would happen in the next 50 years. It was my mother that decided that I should attend a bilingual school and, by acting on this desire, she started to make decisions that propelled me to the next step and then the next.

She was born in 1915 in Granada, Nicaragua. She would had like to have a life like mine, maybe better, however, in her days, in her world, women did not attend college. The best they could do is marry well. In making the decision of who to marry maybe she propelled my destiny so that I could have the life that she wished for herself.

I learned so much from both of my parents, so much that I am just beginning to decipher where they end and I begin. This Blog is intended to document that which was given to me and what I did with it.

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My father, Dr. Alejandro Barberena Perez

April 14, 1914 – August 5, 1997 In Spanish speaking countries, our full, legal names include both of our parents’ surnames – the father’s lineage comes first and it is the most important one.  In my father’s case, that would be Barberena as he was the son of Juan Barberena.  Perez comes from his mother’s lineage.  His complete name, therefore, is Alejandro Barberena Perez.  He held the degree of Doctor in Jurisprudence, so he was referred to as Dr. Barberena…

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This home page contains the beginning of my story.

To continue to read about my journey as I move through life, please click the Blog link.

I hope you are motivated to continue to read this immigrant’s story.

Alejandro and Celia

If we could choose our parents, would we choose the same? It’s hard to say.  Our parents are imperfect human beings as we all are.  However, would I like myself if I were very different? The product or another set of parents? Who knows!  I am used to who I am and what I know.  At my age, I must work to improve myself and be more patient, less sedentary, less eager to have an…

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Birth, family and the oldest city in the Americas

According to my father, a Nicaraguan historian, Granada, the city of my birth, is the oldest city in the Americas, founded in the first quarter of the 1,500’s.  Family folklore has it that I was born at 6:00 a.m. in my mother’s home. Early that morning my father went off in a horse drawn carriage, the public transportation of the time, to bring the midwife to assist in the delivery.  When they arrived, my mother was…

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Celia and Ned

You never know where life will take you.  When I was growing up as a Catholic girl I never thought that I would marry and later divorce.  Marriage was supposed to be forever.  However, that was not true for me, painful as it was in so many levels.  In addition to the personal loss, I was so sorry to tell my very Catholic family, particularly my father, that I had failed at marrying for life.Healing…

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Recent Professional Experience

Community Activist – Engagement with organizations that improve the educational advancement of the youth and the lives of residents of Monterey County. Here are some examples:

  • Present Member of the Board of Directors of the Blind and Visually Impaired Center in Pacific Grove and Member of the Executive Committee as Vice-President of the Board;
  • Present Member of the Board of Directors, Palenke Arts, Seaside;
  • Past Member and Past President of the Board of Directors, Chamber Music Monterey Bay;
  • Past Coordinator of Community Services at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Medical Museum which presents a hands-on curriculum on the practice of medicine in the past 100 years to elementary schools children; promoting outreach to high schools to increase the number of high school students in nursing and science track academies;
  • Member of Pacific Grove Rotary Club;
  • Ambassador for the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce.

2012 – Present President Emeritus/Chabot College

2008 – 2012 President, Chabot College, Hayward, CA, a community college with an enrollment of 15,000 students

1996 – 2007 Vice-President, Student Services, Hartnell College, Salinas, CA. a community college with an enrollment of around 10,000 full time equivalent students