Mr. Ortega was born in Tunguitiro, Michoacán, Mexico, one of six siblings. His first visit to the U.S. was in order to work in the fields, when he was eleven. His parents, who have been lifelong field workers, “still work on their farm,” he explained, and their children followed their example, from an early age, on.
Before the family immigrated, he and his brothers spent a number of summers doing field work in the United States, returning to Mexico to attend school for the rest of the year. Eventually, the family settled in Idaho.
He credits his parents, with teaching him the meaning of hard work, and says his mother did everything in her power to see that her children went to school, despite the hardships involved. Education was a costly luxury where they lived, often requiring kids to travel to another town. Despite all of the challenges involved along the way, and notwithstanding that he and his siblings’ would have to add learning English to their academic challenges, the children set their sights on going to college.
His mother’s determination paid off, and he attended Boise State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
Today, he has had the pleasure of passing the baton to his son, Eddy Ortega, who is a student at Emory University, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, with the help of an HSF Scholarship, among several others. Mr. Ortega says he is most proud of his son’s academic performance and many scholarships.
He also expresses gratitude for the various resources that are enabling his son to pursue his academic and life goals. In fact, he makes a point of saying that Eddy’s HSF Scholarship has been of particular value by providing motivation, over and above economic help. At the same time, he says the economic support came at a crucial moment for the family, since Eddy’s sister is now, also attending college.
His advice to students preparing to attend college: “Never give up, always pursue your dreams.” Further, he counsels that obstacles make one stronger at the end, make one enjoy life more, and help people to feel proud, once they have achieved their goals.