During Days of Diversity, pharmaceutical representative and local resident Laura Inzunza told her honest and inspirational story of how she went from growing up a migratory farm worker to going to college, starting a family, and creating a successful career.
Inzunza was born in Mexico, and her family moved to the United States when she was eight years old. Her mother never attended school, and her father had only received a third grade education, and the family could only find work picking crops. Inzunza said she began working as a small child.
“We were picking as soon as we could walk,” Inzunza said.
When she was young, Inzunza and the other children were given coffee cans with handles to gather the crops with until they became old enough to harvest large buckets like the adults. Inzunza, who worked until she was 15, described the difficulty and tough schedule of migrant farm work, such as having to wake up in the dark every morning.
“We had to be in the field at the crack of dawn,” said Inzunza.
Inzunza credits much of her ability to succeed to her mother, who found ways to help her children as much as she could with the resources available. Her mother taught her and her siblings how to read in Spanish using letters cut out from cereal boxes, and she encouraged Inzunza to participate in high school activities and focus on her schoolwork. Inzunza said her mother’s inventive ideas helped her later to prosper in her career.
“Being creative and thinking outside the box, that’s what makes you stand out,” she said.
After she graduated from high school, Inzunza attended college and received a degree in biology and religion, then attended Loma Linda University to receive a master’s degree in public health. During this time, she married and started a family. She worked in San Bernardino writing grants for the city, and then became a program administrator for the Public Health Department in Oakland, while putting her husband through college. Her family then moved to Missouri, where she wrote grants for a medical school.
It was at this point in Inzunza’s story that she encountered her largest struggle. After a difficult separation, Inzunza found herself moving back home to California with her three sons, with no source of income and no home. After several rough months, she forced herself to find things she was grateful about in her life, and was able to pick up the pieces and find a job as a pharmaceutical representative. Now she also teaches parenting classes, and formed a web site, Conversations with Random Professionals, where she puts up information to teach teenagers about different job opportunities. It can be found at http://laurainzunza.com/about-me/curriculum-vitae/.