Criminal activities in Guadalajara caused the Reynoso family to uproot from their home and country and leave behind their friends, family, established businesses and culture.
Jaime Reynoso was nearing his ninth birthday when he, his father, mother and sister moved from Guadalajara, Mexico to Fullerton on Nov. 3, 2004, because of fear that they might be kidnapped.
The Reynosos had worked hard to provide a comfortable lifestyle in Mexico, creating businesses that would become productive and providing a steady income for themselves and others.
However, it became apparent that moving far away was their only choice to protect, and possibly save, their children from the harm that was growing due to the kidnapping of people who owned established businesses.
Jaime is 19 years old, a first generation college student in his freshman year at CSUF. He is majoring in biology and planning on becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
“Since I was little, I knew that I always wanted to go pursue more knowledge beyond high school. I knew that I wanted a career that I can succeed in and a career that I could love,” Jaime said. “Not just do it for the money, but something that I know I would enjoy doing, and I knew that I had to go to college to do that.”
But when he arrived at California at 8 years old, he did not speak English, and was having a difficult time paying attention in class due to the language barrier.
In Mexico, Jaime attended Catholic school so when he moved to the U.S., the plan was to continue his education in a Catholic elementary school. However, the school would not take him because he could not speak English, so his mother enrolled him in the local elementary school.
“The teachers did tell me he was going to struggle because of the language barrier,” said Jaime’s mother, Maria Reynoso. “But thanks to a teacher at Sunset Lane, Mr. Jenisch, I will never forget his name, he did a big change in my son. He gave him the time, and at six months he was speaking English.”
Jaime quickly became an honors student and excelled in both academics and soccer, a sport he played as a boy back in Mexico.
Jaime’s parents did not go to college. His father only completed grammar school and his mother graduated from high school in Santa Monica.
Jaime Sr. owned a very successful car dealership and a reconstructive antique automobile business. Maria had a thriving trade that sold makeup, hair products and clothing for women.
Moving to the U.S. was a major culture shock. From neighbors not greeting one another, to paying a mortgage on a home rather than paying for it in full with cash, as they did in Mexico.
It required the entire Reynoso family to pull their means together and help pay for everyday living expenses.
Jaime soon assimilated into the American culture in his new hometown of Fullerton. He made friends on the soccer team and in school.
“I’m just really happy to be here and especially of everyone that has been supporting me. I had a fifth grade teacher I remember—Mr. Jenisch, that was his name—he always taught me to never give up no matter what, just to keep going and to always do your best,” Jaime said.
“He really encouraged me and that really brought my self-esteem up. I’m just very grateful to be here, especially in this great school with great people, great professors. I’m just really blessed.”