Sacrifices Built My Foundation

by Aureo Calles

I’m a firm believer that your attitude determines your latitude. It’s something I learned after years of watching my father work to better the circumstances of his family.

As a child, I grew up in a large Mexican city called Guadalajara. I spent my time as most kids who grew up in the ’90s did — I was an avid fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I played at the park, and I spent countless hours at the arcade perfecting my Street Fighter 2 skills. I lived with my grandma while my parents, who both worked in the tourism industry, traveled to exotic locations like Cancun and Acapulco. I learned at an early age that sometimes, sacrifices were necessary in order to keep food on the table. I was content with that. I went to a private school and enjoyed a nice, middle-class life.

And then it all changed.

In 1995, my grandma was diagnosed with brain cancer. As a tight-knit family, my parents put their high-paying jobs on hold to take my grandma to a hospital in Mexico City. Being that I was only 11, I didn’t immediately understand the implications of how fragile the situation was. Four months and several surgeries later, my grandma eventually passed. I essentially “woke up” after that and finally stopped seeing the world from the eyes of a child.

My parents had spent every last penny to care for my grandmother, and their positions had been filled while they were away. We lost a lot of advantages we had enjoyed over the years, including the means to pay for private schooling. And to top it off, Mexico experienced hyperinflation, which greatly reduced the value of the peso.

At this point, my father and mother decided that our best shot was to move to the United States. We already had family in Arizona, and we were fortunate enough to cross the border legally. After staying as guests in someone else’s house, my father saved enough money to move us to a small, one-bedroom home in Tucson. Gangs and violence plagued our neighborhood. We had no car. My father had to take the bus two hours away from our home just to reach the coffee packing place where he worked. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced.

Watching him struggle to make ends meet made me want to take advantage of every opportunity I could. I focused on learning English, tackling the language head on. But it wasn’t always an easy task — I was often picked on, bullied, and ridiculed for being the “foreign kid.” All of this fueled my desire to succeed, and within two months of being in the United States, I had grasped enough English to understand and speak the language.

By the second half of sixth grade (which was my first year here), I was placed in a few gifted programs at school. I wholeheartedly attribute this to my work ethic — in my own way, I wanted to emulate the hard work my parents demonstrated on a day-to-day basis. By the end of seventh grade, I had completely left the E.S.L program and decided to focus on being the best student I could be.

When eighth grade rolled around, my father’s hard work finally paid off, and we were able to move to a nice home in northwest Tucson. My parents made a lot of sacrifices, and those sacrifices laid the foundation for my own success. They did what they had to do in order to give us a better life. I don’t think my story is different or harder than anyone else’s, but I’m able to look back and reflect on where I came from. Anyone can accomplish their dreams — you just have to truly believe in the end result.

Aureo is based in Tempe, AZ and has been with GoDaddy since 2015. He is a member of the employee-led group GoDaddy Latinos in Technology(GD LIT). #GoDaddyBrave #GoDaddyLife

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