“Everything that I am is because of their example,” Emmy Ruiz says of her parents, who immigrated to the US from Mexico just before starting their family. Her dad was a laborer, who slowly grew a business of his own by working tirelessly to tend to other people’s fields. “The owners would say, ‘If you want, on the weekends you can work this little piece of land, and it’ll be yours,'” Ruiz told POPSUGAR. “And so, little by little, my dad was able to grow his farm.”
Her mother was just as relentless. At the time, women didn’t work much — and certainly not in the fields. But their family was struggling, and Ruiz’s mom knew what needed to be done. “She said, ‘If we’re ever going to pull our family out of this, I have to be a part of it,'” Ruiz said. “And so she joined my dad in working in the fields against his initial protest.”
By the time Ruiz was born, the days of her mother sewing scrubs for doctors in exchange for medical treatment were behind them. She had a job with health insurance, and though the family was poor, Ruiz never felt disadvantaged. “Things were much better [for me] than they were for my brothers,” said Ruiz, who’s the youngest of four and the only sibling who never worked in the fields. One of her older brothers, who’s now a prominent lawyer in Seattle, used to sell watermelons on the side of the road. When her brothers were college age, their mother worked two to three jobs at a time to help put them through school, Ruiz explained — and then she’d come home at night and make home-cooked tortillas to mail them.
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