• April 16, 2024

Jennifer Rocha’s College Grad Photos In Farm Fields Take Her Back To Her Roots : NPR

When Jennifer Rocha shared why she chose the fields for her college graduation photoshoot, Jennifer Rocha explained that it was there where her parents “put their backs, their sweats, their early mornings and late afternoons, their work in cold winters and hot summers there Have sacrificed to give me and “my sisters an education.” Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots Hide caption

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Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots

When Jennifer Rocha shared why she chose the fields for her college graduation photoshoot, Jennifer Rocha explained that it was there where her parents “put their backs, their sweats, their early mornings and late afternoons, their work in cold winters and hot summers there have sacrificed to give me and “my sisters an education.”

Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots

Jennifer Rocha wanted to hear the rustle of her black graduation gown against the pepper bushes in the fields of the California farm. She wanted to see the fringe float over the dirt roads she and her parents walked as a family for years as they pick gallons of perfectly ripe fruits and vegetables that end up in America’s grocery stores.

So she decided to snap her college graduation photos in the same hot vegetable fields in Coachella, California, where she’s worked with her parents since high school.

“I’m proud to come from there,” says Rocha, who graduated from UC San Diego on Saturday. “It’s a big part of me.”

“The whole reason I wanted to go back to the fields with my parents is because without them I wouldn’t have a degree or diploma. They sacrificed their backs, their sweat, their early mornings, their late afternoons, I work in cold winters and hot summers just to give me and my sisters an education. “

Jennifer Rocha began working in the fields in Coachella, California as a junior high school student. She continued the strenuous work throughout college. Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots Hide caption

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Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots

Jennifer Rocha began working in the fields in Coachella, California as a junior high school student. She continued the strenuous work throughout college.

Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots

The breathtaking pictures in which she wears her full graduation regalia in high heels and picks vegetables next to her parents in “normal field picking work clothes” have hit a nerve in social media in the last few days and have gone viral. But Rocha says it is the feedback from other immigrant children who received the reward for their parents’ backbreaking work to make them successful that they treasure most.

“I really think that’s why people like her so much,” she says after a short pause.

Her parents had to put their dreams aside

Rocha began working in the fields as a junior in high school. Her mother and father, Angelica Maria and Jose Juan Rocha, had both worked in the fields of Michoacan, Mexico as young children before emigrating to the United States. When they arrived they put aside the dream of becoming a doctor or pursuing another career path, Rocha recalls. “They just didn’t have these options,” she says. Instead, they found jobs that did one thing that returned them to the fields.

“And when we were older, they took us so we could learn a lesson about the value of higher education,” she says.

Jennifer Rocha is picking peppers with her mother Angelica Maria and father Jose Juan Rocha just before graduating from UC San Diego last week. Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots Hide caption

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Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots

Jennifer Rocha is picking peppers with her mother Angelica Maria and father Jose Juan Rocha just before graduating from UC San Diego last week.

Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots

The message was simple: “If you don’t get a college education, this is where you end up. And the only way for you to learn is for us to take you to experience it.”

That meant juggling school and cross-country training with night shifts, says Rocha.

Rocha combined work with school

“I was out of cross-country training around 2 p.m. and then my father picked me up and I came home, changed my clothes, ate something and then went straight to work overnight because we planted strawberries overnight during that time.” whole family would be home sometime between 2 or 3 am, she said, giving her enough time to “shower, take a nap, and then wake up around 5:30 am to get ready for school because I.” otherwise had to take the city bus “I would miss it.”

She continued to work throughout college even when she got a job with campus security. During the winter, spring and summer breaks, she accompanied her parents, bent over various crops and hoisted as many barrels as possible from the field to a sorting table on her shoulders eight hours a day.

“And then I got the other job as a cadet once [with the Beverly Hills Police Department]”I basically did three jobs at the same time,” she says with a laugh.

tk Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots Hide caption

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Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots

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Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots

The photos, she says, showed the world that she is just one of the hardworking, intelligent people like her parents, who are often invisible but can count on them to do the lowest, worst-paid jobs in the country every day.

“That’s why I want you to recognize not only them, but all the other migrant workers we’d like to forget.”

Rocha hopes anyone moved by the photos will have a fresh perspective the next time they do their grocery shopping.

“When people go to the supermarket, [they] Just grab vegetables and food without really thinking about it, “she says, sounding frustrated.” They don’t think that there are people who work drastically hard and in dangerous conditions just to make sure we have these foods available.

Jennifer Rochas says this is her favorite photo on the show because their faces reflect the “joy and pride” they feel about having three college girls. Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots Hide caption

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Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots

Jennifer Rochas says this is her favorite photo on the show because their faces reflect the “joy and pride” they feel about having three college girls.

Branden Rodriguez / Instagram @ branden.shoots

She takes pride in her parents’ pride in her

Her favorite picture in the series in one where she is flanked by her parents walking down a dirt road.

Back then, she says, she couldn’t see exactly what her parents were doing when the photographer snapped away. But when she caught a glimpse of their smiling faces, she said, “It’s just a joy and pride that you now have three girls with degrees.”

“It just made me feel, wow, I just made you guys proud.”

Rocha, who studied sociology with a focus on law and society, is already pursuing her dream career in law enforcement. She hopes to become the boss one day.

She says she will use this spotlight moment to encourage other young Latinos to hurry up regardless of the circumstances and set clear goals.

“It’s not impossible,” she says. “Just because your parents work as domestic servants doesn’t mean you won’t be successful. It will be difficult, but anything is possible. And never forget where you’re from.”

Jack

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