Cassandra Olivar-Cardenas

Name Cassandra Olivar-Cárdenas

Graduating From: Paso Robles High School Degree: HS Diploma

Future Plans: University of Oregon (Eugene, OR), majoring in Psychology with an interest in working for the FBI


A little back story for context:  I was born in Oregon (Portland).  When I was 8, my dad was deported.  My mom was pregnant so she and I stayed in Portland until my sister was a year old and then we moved to Mexico.  I had experienced enough by the time I was 8 or 9 to be able to know and really notice the difference in education when we moved to Mexico, so from a very young age I cared about my future and wanted to learn!  So when I was about 12 I started thinking about leaving my parents and coming back to the U.S.  I wanted the opportunities that are here and realize that you have to make sacrifices for what you want.  So I came to live with my mom’s brother and his wife (and now they have a baby) and as soon as I was old enough I started working and would send money to my family.  At first I went back to visit them every year, but when I started working full time I couldn’t always go every year.


How I was affected: I had plans to go to Oregon in March, but that got cancelled.  I was really bummed.  My parents and my little sister live in Mexico and I had plans to go visit them during the summer and that got cancelled.  That broke my heart.  I haven’t seen my parents since 2018.


Some of the emotions I experienced: I was at work when everyone started texting me on Friday the 13th.  At the time I was ambivalent because I was busy working and initially thought that if they cancelled school I could just keep working.  Of course that changed.  I was a little bummed about all the senior activities that me and my friends were planning - prom, senior pranks, senior ditch day, etc.  But what I’m really bummed about is the ceremony.  Graduation is the culminating celebration of this big accomplishment.  I wanted to experience the importance - the meaning of this graduation - the emotions you get when everyone gathers and everyone claps for you.  I was very excited for that moment.  Walking across the stage with everyone clapping - “hey mom, I did it!” - that moment.


One difficult thing was: I decided to stop working because I have a lot of family here at home  (my Aunt’s dad and brother also live here right now) and it wasn’t good to keep going to work where I was in contact with lots of people every day and potentially be exposed and expose my family, so I quit my job.


Something that stood out during this experience:  I was used to being at work and at school - so busy all the time.  Now I’m here at home wondering what I’m going to do later on today.  Just the contrast of that.

Lori’s Summary: Cassandra is clearly determined and she’s experienced things from a young age that have shaped that determination.  She is committed to improving her life and devoted to her family.  She’s willing to take risks for her dreams and she has already developed the life skills to set big goals and achieve them.

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