Oral History - Debra Sámano Hopper
The Archives has conducted oral history interviews with Luis Sámano (father), Michael Sámano (son), and Debra Sámano Hopper (daughter). Here are excerpts from the interview with Debra Sámano Hopper . For a complete transcript or to listen to the recording, contact the Archives.
Debbie Sámano Hopper is a nurse in the psychiatric unit at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene. She graduated from Lane in 1995 and returned for her nursing degree which she finished in 2002. In her oral history interview, she talked about her brother Michael and her family.
I would say, looking back, that one of the most supportive people was my brother [Michael]. He definitely pushed me a lot and helped me stay focused. Because he had done the transfer degree and went to the UO. And so once I became focused and actually took the time to ask him what steps did you take, he was there with open arms and said hey, this is what you gotta do and let's go in this direction. He really helped me both LCC and at the UO with connecting me with people at the UO and helping me get hooked up with scholarships at the UO. And when I came back the second time for the nursing - at that point he was already working here as an instructor. There were times where I don't think I would have got through it if he hadn't been here. Even if it was just a shoulder to gripe, cry on - gripe whtever. He was always really supportive. He helped me in a lot of ways. Sometimes if I don't feel like my voice was being heard, he was right there to support me and make sure that I got what I needed.
I am Mexican-American. My father is from Mexico and my mother is American. Growing up, my dad was struggling to be American. ...We were raised in a pretty typical American home. He wanted us to speak English because he was trying to learn English ... My parents divorced when I was five and he remarried a woman who also had a Latino background, and so she brought more into our home and so then at that point between the two of them we started to have more of our Mexican culture.
I was pretty much was raised in a white culture and was not treated any differently at all. And even when I got to LCC I didn't have any Mexican-American friends. All my friends were American. And it wasn't until I got to the UO where my brother hooked me up with the multicultural office there - MEChA [Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan]. And I started kinda meeting with similar backgrounds. It was a whole new world for me. In some ways I still kind of struggle with that just because I was raised not around people with the same cultural - the Mexican-American heritage. I definitely don't have that background and awareness that my brother and stepsister have because they're so immersed in that daily in dealing with that. It's really difficult to put into words for me.
I think I probably learned more about my cultural background as an adult than I ever did growing up. And I still am learning constantly. I learn it from my brother, or society. And definitely society has changed a lot and the area - just being in Eugene has become more culturally diverse than when I was growing up. When I was growing up I don't even remember there being - like you have the Blair area which is predominantly Latino. And now there is this Latino Mercado market that you can go to on Sundays. There are constantly things that are coming up that were not there when I was growing up.
Summary of Interview: Total time: 38:30 minutes
0:00 Born and raised in Eugene
1:40 Childhood; brother Michael
2:55 Begins studying at Lane Community College in 1987; gets transfer degree
6:20 Studies at Lane immediately after high school
8:08 Transfers to UO; gets bachelors degree in psychology; volunteers at psychiatric department at hospital; studies for certified nurses assistant degree at Lane
12:20 Works in the psychiatric unit
15:00 Rewards and challenges of psychiatric nursing
19:10 Decides major at Lane; change in focus from business to college transfer degree
22:55 Expectations of parents
24:58 Support from brother, Michael, while a student at Lane and UO
26:45 Returns to Lane to study nursing
29:00 Differences in studying at Lane in 1980s and late 1990s
33:15 Cultural background as Mexican-American; changes in cultural diversity of Eugene
Return to: Oral History - Sámano Family