Gilberto Aguirre, M.D. Valley Rising: A South-Texan’s Journey from the Migratory Fields to Successful Eye Surgeon. ISBN 13: 978-1888205503 $25.95.
This is a joint publication of Floricanto and Berkeley Presses.
This is a powerful reflection—of a sincere man dedicated to the betterment of his Mexican American people—on the very deep, personal, structural and historical root causes of segregation and its dehumanizing effects. A personal and intimate story of the life of Gilberto Aguirre growing from infant to successful physician. From living in the barrio to a respectful neighborhood, you meet his family, friends, teachers, coaches and fellow workers that make up his multiply divided world of many social, economic and racial tensions. You experience the agonies and the joys, the frustrations and dreams, the painful insults and encouraging moments, and most of all the hard work fueled by the deep commitment to overcome the inferiority complex by achieving success without losing his Mexican American soul. The most powerful, beautiful and moving section of the book is the account of his first born son, Jaime. Jaime has struggled through life with many physical difficulties, yet he is the most positive individual I have ever met. Gilberto states: “What Jaime has accomplished in view of the obstacles presented to him far outweighs my own accomplishments.” This is a very enjoyable book that presents both a challenge to all young people to overcome difficulties and hope that success is possible by being truly yourself. It tells the story of one man but in reality it is the story of Mexican Americans and other minorities, he does not claim to speak for anyone, but in him all of us can find elements of our own story. It will be especially beneficial to minority pre-med students seeking to enter the medical profession. I loved the book! A proud American of Mexican heritage.—Virgil Elizondo, S.T.D., PhD, Professor of Pastoral and Hispanic Theology, University of Notre Dame.
Years ago, Gilberto Aguirre embarked in an odyssey through the corridors of education, and a myriad of seasonal labor, toward a rendezvous with the medical profession. Admittedly, he encountered more than a fair share of detours, setbacks, barriers, and disappointments. Endowed with an exemplary work ethic, Aguirre learned to shift nimbly to execute strategic withdrawals in search of narrow passages to reconnect with the pathway to success. The characteristic that separates Dr. Aguirre from a legion of successful physicians is a gnawing desire to share the contours of his journey from Alamo, in the shadow of the Mexico-United States border, to publish his reflections for the benefit of a wide range of readers. Hopefully, the younger generation will discern that lofty goals are not easy pickings, like pulling aguacates from low-lying branches. The culmination of fulfillment required decades of sustained effort for Gilberto Aguirre, all of which underscores the reality that life is worth living. —Felix D. Almaraz, Jr., Ph.D., Peter T. Flawn Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Borderlands and Texas History The University of Texas at San Antonio
Valley Rising is an account of one man’s incredible traverse from the Western agricultural laboring fields—the fields of tears—to the fields of medicine, academia and praxis. His thesis was simple, I’ll give my all and earn my place in America. This is not only a remarkable personal narrative, but an exemplary story, like Theseus’, that not only deserves to be heard but also imitated. Gilberto Aguirre recounts the stringent living conditions and work requirements in the rice fields and having to work in the fields and shoe shine as a child to help his family. His parents were critical in making sure that he would go to a public school. That decision spared him from the crude reality of American farm labor where 800,000 under aged Latino (mostly Mexican) children begin helping their families harvesting the crops, become affected by malnutrition ten times higher than the national average and end with a life expectancy of 49 years. Once out of farm laboring, the raconteur relates how in public school, despite his determination to excel and go to college, he experienced discrimination. He quickly realized that college was the ticket out of poverty and Angleton. Once in college he set his sight high into medical school where he faced a whole new set of issues from gaining entrance into medical school, graduating, getting a residency, and thereafter setting up a practice. This was a journey where he had to fight and be his best at every step of the way. There was one constant in this successful historical 1950s traverse, he endured the hyphenated discriminatory labeling—Mexican before being recognized as an American—as a youngster, as a medical student and as a doctor of medicine, regardless how good and successful he became. This book is engaging, heart-felt as his life is offered as an experience for the readers to ponder and learn. Our children and youngsters need to know the reality of what it takes to succeed and love America, despite when She—particularly the Anglo majority—insisted in diminishing his hard earned contributions with a simple ethnic label.—Roberto Cabello-Argandoña, Editor. LatinoBooks.Net