Lani Conway's Mother, Zenaida
"Mama grew up outside of Manila surrounded by rice fields and carabao. From an early age, education was power. She studied hard, became top of her class (and later Valedictorian). She eventually earned a full ride to college, and then another to pursue a PhD in the Aloha State. She learned and traveled, met new people, found new loves. Scholarships always paid the way, and kept her from returning to life in a poor country. For my mom, education was power, but it was also a hard-earned key to greater opportunities and a brighter future in the United States. 

I wish I could tell you more details about her life: how she became a U.S. citizen, moved to California, and landed a sweet job with the state. More importantly, I wish I could tell you about all the emotional ups and downs she’s faced as an immigrant. (Do you regret anything? Did you ever want to give up? What has been the hardest part about grappling with your Filipino-American identity?) But I can’t because I’ve never asked. Children of immigrants can be so selfish this way. Regardless of my own failings, I do know this — my mom empowered and educated herself, tried, and prevailed. I hope one day, at the very least, I can say the same. "