Arturo Macias Franco beat all odds to achieve his education. Growing up in Torreon Coahuila, Mexico, listening to stories about his grandfather’s ranch and animals, he was drawn towards a life in agriculture and veterinary science, and wanted to be a veterinarian.
But at 17, Arturo and his family were forced to flee when their town was invaded by a drug cartel. Arturo and brother emigrated to the United States to live with an aunt in Napa Valley, while the rest of his family went to Mexico City. Because he is undocumented, he has not been able to return to his hometown or Mexico, though his family was able to visit him on several occasions, including attending his graduation from Napa Valley College (NVC).
Arturo’s aunt, who is a local business owner, along with other family and friends, opened their homes to Arturo and his brother, enabling them to stay in Napa. Arturo graduated from Napa High School in 2012 through an accelerated pathway of advanced placement (AP) courses, then started his studies at NVC in fall 2013. He earned a perfect 4.0 GPA during his eight semesters at NVC and graduated in spring 2016 with two associates degrees, one in applied mathematics and one in natural sciences and mathematics. He also received President’s Honors recognition and membership in Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
He said, “Prior to becoming a student at NVC, I was uncertain as to what my future would hold. During my time at Napa Valley College, I lived some of the most challenging years of my life; looking back, these experiences allowed me to grow tremendously, both professionally and personally.”
When he transferred to University of Nevada-Reno in 2016, Arturo moved to Reno and his brother moved to San Jose. His brother, who was also student at NVC, is now at the California College of Arts and Sciences, pursuing a degree in architecture and continuing to work full time.
Currently, Arturo is preparing to defend an MSc degree in animal and rangeland sciences at UN-R and is also pursuing a second MSc in statistics and data science. He hopes his family will be with him again for graduation. He plans to continue his research, pursuing a PhD at UN-R beginning this fall.
Though his goals have changed somewhat, his field of research not only allows him to do the animal work that he would do as a veterinarian, but also to give back to the community by pursuing answers to biological and societal dilemmas.
Arturo said, “Though it is somewhat difficult to think of my ultimate goal, given the volatility and uncertainty surrounding life as an undocumented student, I believe I want to pursue a life in academia. Let it be by pursuing a research position, or just a teaching one. Academia will allow me to voice minorities and hopefully allow me to directly interact and serve as a helping hand to students under similar circumstances as me.”
Arturo is uncertain about where his career and future will take him. He would love to stay in the United States, return to NVC as faculty, but if things don’t change legally, he would consider living in other countries for a life in academia.