Starr Prize!

My name is Michelle Ascencio, and I'd like to nominate my mother,Marina Ascencio, for the Mother's Day Makeover Contest. My mother is the definition of sacrifice. A single mother raising two children, nothing came easy to her. My father has been in and out ofour lives for the almost 25 years they've been married; In spite of that, my brother and I have NEVER felt alone or unloved. I'm sure her life hasn't played out the way she imagined it when she walked down the aisle, but never for a second has she given up on her family or herself. She has worked tirelessly to make sure that we had every material thing we have ever needed, and most importantly, she worked even harder to make sure we had those things that money can't buy: confidence, commitment, and love.

As I become older, I'm beginning to realize just how much strength of character it requires to raise a family on your own. She made it seem so effortless, but I can only imagine just how trying and sometimes frightening it could have been. It's a scary world out there, but I'm confident that I can tackle anything life may throw at me because she taught me that with a good education, a caring heart and a strong sense of self, I'm capable of doing anything, an important lesson for young women of my generation.

The only word that comes close to describing my mother is "angel." She's beautiful, strong, independent, and she's everything to my brother and I. Without her, who knows where we'd be today. A fun fact: My mother's hair is down to her calves and she's been growing it out since she was in middle school, which was the late 60s/early 70s. She will be 51 this year and has NEVER had her hair colored or styled by a professional! She's had the same hairstyle, a small bun, since I can remember (and I'm 22). I've been begging her to tag along with me to get her hair done (my treat too!) and she keeps telling me that when the next season, like summer, rolls around, she'll get it done. It's now been about 5 summers... She's the type of woman who always thinks about others before she thinks of herself, so I can imagine that doing something like getting her hair or makeup done JUST because or JUST for her is a foreign concept. It's a luxury she's gave up years ago because there were so many neccessities that had taken priority (another reason why she's so amazing). I think it's about time that she does something for herself, just because and just for her. Thanks Karen and Starr House for your consideration

Starr Runner up

In the year 1975, the communists took over in Southeast Asia. Civil war broke out and left many residents and civilians homeless, hungry, and hopeless. In that year, my mom was separated from her family and was called to work on the fields by carrying loads of water on her shoulders to the communists and tending the crops. The communists fed her only one watery rice bowl a day and she worked fourteen hours a day under intense heat. To ease her hunger pain, she and other field workers had to catch their own food, such as crabs and rats to survive. She witnessed many of her fellow workers pass out from the heat and die from being overworked. She was blessed to have survived what was called the "killing fields" for four years. After four years, the Americans entered Southeast Asia and caused a halt to the civil war, which allowed my mom and other field workers to escape. Throughout the escape, she hid in the wilderness and evaded land mines, tigers, and other dangers. She finally arrived at Khao I Dang, which was a refugee camp in Thailand (the only Southeast Asian country that was not affected severely by the civil war). She met my dad at that time and suffered a miscarriage. She knew she didn't want to stay in the refugee camp and raise a child there, and awaited sponsorship to come to America. It took two years before she heard back from the immigration department, and was fortunate enough to have heard good news. In December of 1981, she arrived in Houston, Texas with my dad. At that time, she was pregnant with me and gave birth to me in May the following year, just a few days before Mother's Day.

Life was hard in America. However, life in America was better than the life she just lived previously. She was in her early thirties, spoke no English, and had very little formal education. Regardless of the barriers, she was determined to pave the way so that I would not have to endure hardship. She and my dad got a job as cooks in a Chinese restaurant in Houston, making enough to pay the rent and the babysitter to watch over me. A little over a year later, my parents decided to move to St. Louis because of more job opporunities and cheaper rent. The rent was only $150 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. She and my dad worked long hours, but realized that working long hours and not tending to my early childhood years would only cause me harm in the future. In 1983, my brother was born and she decided that she should become a stay at home mom. St. Louis was too cold, so she wanted to relocate to a warmer place. Our family moved to Southern California and resided in the San Gabriel Valley since. My mom made sure that I had enrichment classes to help me improve in school, recreational classes to keep me physically active, and took me to the park to spend some quality mom and daughter time together. My mom couldn't afford to take my brother and I to lavish places or vacations, but she made sure that we had the educational background to break the cycle of poverty. She encourged us to do our homework and alloted space and quiet time to study. Her encouragement and support provided me the opportunity to be the first in my family to have received a formal education and go to college. She always reminded me of how fortunate I am to be here and that I should take advantage of the opportunties available so that I will not regret the choices I have made. Thanks to her support and hard work, I was able to live a better life than she did. What really amazes me is my mom's tenacious effort regardless of her circumstances. She doesn't complain about her past and doesn't take for granted what she has in America.

Thanks for reading this! It's really a privilege that I get to write a short story about my mom's life.

Julie Giang

Rollover Images Below to Enlarge and read their stories!
City SearchYelpInsider
TwitterFour SquareLinkedin

©2013 Starr House. All Rights Reserved.