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The Borderlander:

One woman’s journey between two countries in pursuit of an education and a brighter future


About This Video

This video is part of a yearlong Chronicle visual series that highlights the challenges facing students from underrepresented and underserved communities. The series is part of the Different Voices of Student Success project, which is supported by the Ascendium Education Group.

The film was shot and edited by filmmaker and multimedia journalist Emily Kinskey. Carmen Mendoza, a senior web producer at The Chronicle, directed the project and assisted in the web production. Erica Lusk, senior photo and media editor, consulted on the project.

Every weekday for the past 10 years, Viviana Mitre has driven back and forth from her home in Juárez, Mexico, to the University of Texas at El Paso, to work toward her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. While alone in her car each time she makes the crowded border crossing — which can take as long as three hours — Viviana carries with her the hopes and dreams of her mother and grandmother. Their desire to attend college and have professional careers was thwarted by the challenges and pressures of everyday life in Mexico. Although they were unable to surmount those barriers, they supported and encouraged Viviana — a U.S. citizen — to break through and become the first member of her family to graduate from college. She did it with the help of family and a mentor, plus her own grit, determination, and resilience. Her education and lived experience helped her navigate the road to a bright future. Viviana is now starting her career as a social worker, guiding others on their own journeys. Here’s her story.