Melkyn Mazariegos came to the U.S. from Guatemala as a teenager to support his family and make a better life for himself. He took advantage of every educational opportunity available to him, including ESL and workforce development classes at Canal Alliance.
Now 22, Melkyn has started his own business and is sharing his voice and experiences as a young immigrant in Marin. Regina Vindel, Workforce Career Supervisor, has connected with Melkyn across Canal Alliance programs. “Melkyn is very inspirational,” she notes. “His commitment and tenacity are to be admired.”
We are inspired by and grateful to Melkyn for sharing his story.
Tell me about yourself and your journey to the U.S.
My name is Melkyn Mazariegos and I am from Guatemala. I was 16 years old when I came to this country in 2016. I came by myself. You’re sad on the trip and don’t know if you will ever see your family again.
When I first arrived to the United States, I got detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I was in a detention center for a month before being released to my aunt. She was the one who told me about Canal Alliance. The Canal Alliance Immigration Legal Services (ILS) team helped me with my case.
What was your life like when you first got settling in Marin?
I was a full-time student and I dedicated my time to studying. I went to high school for three years and graduated in 2019. During that time, I also took English classes at the College of Marin and ESL classes at Canal Alliance. I knew a bit of English already so I was placed at a higher level. I love studying and I wanted to improve my English. I worked weekends with my uncles doing landscaping and construction.
After I graduated from high school, I joined a trade program called ‘Big Skills Tiny Homes’ which is similar to the Construction Certificate Program at Canal Alliance. I also took part in the Construyendo mi Negocio (Small Business) class where I learned a lot of helpful information that would help me in my life.
Then in the Fall of 2021, I joined the Canal Alliance construction class. It was a beautiful experience not only because I met new people and learned new things, but because I also got better at the things I did know. It was incredible because I was asked to be a Teacher Aide for the following Construction Class cohort!
What made you decide to start your own business?
At the beginning of the pandemic, I was out of work for about a month. I received a check from Canal Alliance that really helped me out. More than anything, during that month, I took the time to realize what it is I wanted to do with my life. I decided I wanted to become a small business owner.
I am someone who is very independent. I’ve always had big dreams and saw myself being a leader one day. When I took the Construyendo mi Negocio course, it helped me see the world differently. It opened my eyes. I learned how to save money and be more organized.
What are your plans and goals for the future?
I decided to start my own landscaping business in January 2021. I love what I do. At the moment, I am the only employee. But when I have a bigger job to do, I will sometimes ask friends for help. Check out my work at @amadoslandscaping on Instagram.
My only plan right now is to continue to build my company. I want to help the community. I want to give what I have received. I want to grow my company so that I can help the community like Canal Alliance has helped me.
Explore the video that Melkyn created: What it Means to be an Immigrant