Stanford Grad Works In The Fields To Pay For Medical School, Helps Raise Awareness For Farmworkers
To help pay for medical school, Stanford grad Gianna Nino-Tapias returned to the work she grew up with, helping her family in the fields and raising awarness about the conditions farmworkers face every day.
Twenty-four-year-old Gianna Nino-Tapias is the daughter of immigrant farmworkers from Oaxaca. They came to this country to give their children a better life, and Gianna was living it.
With a master’s degree in epidemiology, a Mexican American woman is now working in the same fields where her family first got its start in the US. Due to the pandemic, she went back to help her family and also to raise awareness about the plight of immigrant farm workers. pic.twitter.com/F74NbaEu4w— Univision News (@UnivisionNews) August 7, 2020
Gianna, whose family is of Mixtec ancestry, worked hard in the fields, and in the classroom, making her way to Stanford, where she graduated with her Master's in epidemiology this past spring.
The newly minted grad planned to continue working on campus before starting medical school in the fall. Then the pandemic hit.
Gianna lost both her on-campus jobs and, with mounting bills, tuition to pay, and family to help, she headed home to East Washington - and back to the fields.
"My family has worked in the fields my whole life," says Gianna who started picking herself at age 14. "It’s humble, honest work."
And hard work. Gianna says she and her family work 8-10 hour days in temperatures that can reach over 110 degrees.
Tomorrow, it will be 111° F ???? and we will be out there, harvesting.— Yana (@giannanino) July 30, 2020
According to Gianna, pickers strap a gallon pail to their chest and race to fill it with berries. They only make $3.50 per gallon.
On a good day, Gianna says she can pick 4 gallons an hour. Those who can't pick enough to earn minimum wage are sacked.
I’m about to finish up my time in the fields, and wanted everyone to know that we (farmworkers) are paid $7 for two gallons of blueberries. How much do you pay for your blueberries? pic.twitter.com/Om5fAT7TbP— Yana (@giannanino) July 30, 2020
And the pandemic has made working conditions worse and more dangerous, with little opportunity for social distancing.
So, Gianna is taking the opportunity to raise awareness about what farmworkers face every day.
I’m disappointed to learn that farmworkers back home were sprayed with pesticides while working. It’s frustrating to see how invisible and disposable our lives are treated. https://t.co/2PUC47DJhB— Yana (@giannanino) August 7, 2020
Gianna is heading back to Stanford this month to start medical school, but she'll be back in the fields soon enough, this time, as a doctor, to provide badly needed medical care to farmworkers and Native American communities.
"It’s where I came from," she said. "It’s the people that raised me, that supported me when I was dreaming about going to college and I definitely want to come back and serve."
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has expressed concern and commitment to become informed about their food! I will be a first year medical student soon and will put the money towards my education. Venmo: @/Gianna-Nino Cashapp: $GNino4 ????????— Yana (@giannanino) July 30, 2020