Sacrifice and Success
Sept. 15-Oct. 15 is recognized as Hispanic Heritage Month. MCAN asked Felipe Lopez Sustaita, associate dean of the Center for Student Support at Lansing Community College, to reflect on his college-going journey.
Attending college was a game changer for me and my family. I went from working in the fields to sitting at tables with decision makers, from the back of the line to front of the line in very little time. This came with a price. Often, the price we pay is never talked about, because success tends to cover up the scars and pain. I have been away from my family for over 20 years of my life. I left home not knowing what the future was going to look like. I left the only life I knew existed. I left a life of hard work. I wanted to go to a place where some of the brightest minds went to sharpen their skillsets.
I went into a foreign place. I went to a place where very few people looked like me. Experts would probably have predicted I was not going to make it because of my GPA, my background, where I attended high school, and many other factors.
I missed so much, and I know I can never get that time back with my loved ones, but that’s the price I had to pay. I have also had to change the way I think in order to be able to compete in a game that wasn’t built for me. I’ve learned things that I never thought I would ever use, and I’ve had to experience so much defeat in all areas of my life.
I overcame all these obstacles because of great people who have mentored me. College changed my life — I met my wife and many of my best friends, and I acquired knowledge that no one can ever take away from me. My college journey is one that I would never change. I survived and thrived because of my family and because of the lessons they taught me. I now pay it forward by sharing my story with other students that feel hopeless. I pride myself in giving hope to people who need an encouraging message. To learn more about my journey, please check out my book, “You Can’t Run From Your Destiny: Lessons From A Migrant Worker.”