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The immigrant experience can be tough. Share your stories of struggle, success

May 24, 2010 |  7:25 am

TalkBackLARecent news events had Times columnist Hector Tobar reflecting about UCLA and the immigrant experience:

First there was the stunning public fall of Nancy Salas, another 22-year-old daughter of Salvadoran immigrants whose mother cleaned houses.

Hoping to hide from her parents the fact that she had dropped out of UCLA and wouldn't be graduating with her classmates, Salas ran away to Merced and told police she'd been kidnapped.

A few days later came word of the death in a car crash in Maine of two recent UCLA graduates who were themselves immigrants. Cinthya Felix and Tam Tran both overcame many obstacles to complete their educations. They were undocumented yet managed to win acceptance to prestigious Ivy League graduate schools.

On Monday I attended a campus memorial service for Felix and Tran, and heard of the many remarkable things they had done in their short lives: from skydiving to making documentary films and testifying before Congress.

Hearing their stories, I thought: It isn't easy to be a bright child in an immigrant family.

If you're lucky, you grow up listening to family stories of loss and separation. And when you reach adulthood it's with the burden of knowing that you can make your parents' sacrifices worthwhile simply by doing well in college.

If you're not lucky, however, your family might question whether they can even afford to send you to college.

All this baggage causes some to drop out. Many lower their sights and settle for less lofty dreams. But others are driven to extraordinary heights.

Read Tobar's full column here.

-- Hector Tobar

The columnist talks more in his video, above, and wants to hear your stories about overcoming burdens. Share your thoughts below.