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Hispanic Heritage Month

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alek Reynolds, a crew chief with the 169th Maintenance Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., spends time with her family in the base dining facility before deploying overseas, Feb. 5, 2014. Members of the 169th Fighter Wing, South Carolina Air National Guard and 495th Fighter Group are deploying to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia for an Air Expeditionary Force rotation.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alek Reynolds, a crew chief with the 169th Maintenance Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., spends time with her family in the base dining facility before deploying overseas, Feb. 5, 2014. Members of the 169th Fighter Wing, South Carolina Air National Guard and 495th Fighter Group are deploying to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia for an Air Expeditionary Force rotation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- I come from a family of immigrants. My grandparents sought out to find better opportunities for their children and thought they could do so in this country. My mother was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador in 1964 and migrated with her mother, father and siblings to Charlotte, N.C. in 1969.

My mother and her family legally became citizens in the early 70s after much struggle. It was hard for a non-English speaking family to earn an income or progress educationally. They pushed through and my grandfather was finally hired to a food distribution company, working for the major airlines. During this time my mother learned English the best way she could; through the public school system in Charlotte and by watching American television. She used to always tell me stories of her upbringing and how it was difficult for her to excel academically because of the language barrier. Also, after she learned English well enough, she unfortunately was still overlooked in school because her teacher assumed she didn't understand.

Thankfully, times have changed a lot since then and now being bilingual and multi-cultural is mostly rewarded. I am blessed that I was able to grow up in a diverse home. My mother has a large influence on my life and because of her I am proud to have such a rich heritage.