High school students in Delano harvest success: balancing work, family, and college dreams in the fields

May 25, 2023 /

In the community of Delano, there are many high school students who often get jobs while in school in order to save up money for college.

Many of these high school students get a job working in the fields because they can work on the weekends, work alongside their parents, and get paid really well.

Robert F. Kennedy high school sophomore, Joshlyn Ocampo, said she works in the fields to be able to support her family and provide for herself. 

“My parents usually buy clothes for me, but by working in the fields I can buy my own clothes and my parents can save that money for other necessities like food or bills,” said Ocampo.

Ocampo said she also wants to be able to use that money for when she goes to college.

“I am starting to save money right now that I am in high school so that when I go to college I have some money saved up for books or anything else I might need for college,” said Ocampo. “I do not want my parents to have to worry about getting another job to pay for my college, so by working in the fields I get to help out.”

Ocampo said some of the consequences of working in the fields are getting tired or worn out, standing out in the heat, breathing in all the dust which causes allergies and asthma, and having to breathe in toxic chemicals at times.

“A good thing about working in the fields is that you do learn good lessons. Lessons that working in the fields have taught me are how to be independent because I am there working alone,” said Ocampo. “I am also learning new skills that will be needed for later purposes and it taught me that money is not something easily earned.”

Another RFK high school sophomore, Lesly Gil, said she started working in the fields on the weekends because she wants to be able to afford to go to college and to have some money of her own.

“I want to study psychology and I know going to college is not cheap. I remember my siblings having to work while they were in college just to pay for books and I wanted to get ahead and start and work while I am in high school so that when the time comes I have some money saved up,” said Gil. “I use some of this money to buy things for myself when I go out with my friends to eat or watch a movie and it feels good knowing I earned this money and don’t have to ask my parents for money.”

Gil said that she also decided to work in the fields because she wanted to see what it was like for her parents since they have been working in the fields for the past ten years. 

“I also work in the fields because I want to work alongside my mom and dad, who are also field workers. I wanted to help my parents because I see how tired they are after coming home from being at work all day,” said Gil. “They have been working in the fields for a long time and it has been to provide and give my family everything we have.”

Gil said that a consequence of working in the fields is that it can be dangerous sometimes.

“There are snakes in the fields and that can be very scary. Working in the fields is also very tiring especially when it is super hot. You have to drink a lot of water and stay dehydrated and take a hat because you can get a heat stroke,” said Gil.

A lesson that Gil has learned while working in the fields is that money does not come easy. 

“I learned the definition of working hard because working in the fields is not something that is easy. I learned how to move quickly and you have to have good hand skills to cut the grapes,” said Gil.

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