A Second-Generationer’s Starter Pack

4 Minute-ReadUPDATED: April 02, 2024


There’s something that children of immigrant parents all tend to relate to and bond over. The first being the hilarious things our parents say or do as they continue to navigate American culture regardless of how long they’ve been here.

The second being this unwavering desire to make them proud, so that every sacrifice they made would be worth it. I’ve had the first part down for as long as I can remember, but the second part took some time for me to understand.

If you ask any Asian immigrant parent what they aspire for their child, 10 out of 10 times I guarantee it has something to do with being a successful insert medical career here. Don’t worry, I won’t turn this into a comedy special where I go through every stereotype in the book for growing up in a household with Asian immigrant parents.

Lessons Learned From Pushback

When my parents emigrated from the Philippines in the early ‘90s for career opportunities, they left everything they knew behind in the hopes for a better life for themselves and what would later be my brother and me.

One of the prerequisites in the “growing up with Asian immigrant parents” starter pack was that any decision had to be met with pushback at every step, stage, staircase (I would literally argue with my parents on our staircase) – everything from asking them to not pack last night’s leftovers for lunch, arguments over why I couldn’t sleep over at my friend’s house, to my personal favorite about how “Americanized” I’ve become. I could not for the life of me wrap my brain around why they were being so stubborn and hard pressed.

Fast forward to 2016. I took a trip to Detroit that summer to visit a friend who worked downtown at the time. I fell in love with the city, and through our conversation that day, I fell in love with Rocket Mortgage® as well. You can imagine my parents’ reaction when I told them I was no longer pursuing a career in insert medical career here and instead would be entering the world of business at Rocket Mortgage.

I always knew the medical field wasn’t for me, but at the chance of disappointing my parents, I kept pushing through. I think all children come to a point in their lives where they have to make the “shouldn’t be difficult, but difficult” decision of whether or not they should choose their own path or the path their parents laid out for them.

Deep down, my parents have always supported the life choices I’ve made, but it usually was met with the aforementioned pushback and me wishing I had prepared a PowerPoint presentation backing my life choices and asking that all questions be held until the end.

Even deeper down, I knew the root of all the pushback came from them only wanting what’s best for me, but in the moment their intentions were blurred with what they wanted for me, and not necessarily what I thought was best for myself.

With no real depth of knowledge about Detroit or the mortgage industry, the pushback in this situation was no different than in others before. Truth be told, it was all new for me too. Looking back, something sparked in me the day I told my parents I’d be working at Rocket Mortgage and that spark ended up turning into something much bigger. It turned into the motivation to prove to my parents (and to myself) that this was the right decision, the drive to do whatever it took to prove it, and an overall desire to figure out who I was and who I wanted to become on this new journey.

Everything Comes Full Circle

Three years later, I’m happy to say that my parents are still fully supportive and proud of the career I’ve built for myself here and often ask me for extra business cards to pass out to friends and co-workers.

It truly amazes me that somewhere along the way, this fast-paced, ever-changing environment has made me so proud of who I’ve become and where I’ve come from. I’ve learned that I owe these intrinsic motivators to work hard and to give 150% in all that I do to my parents. I was just too “me-focused” and to be frank, too immature to see it.

Going back to the beginning, my parents sacrificed everything to come to America in the hopes of a better life that wasn’t guaranteed, but they did it anyways. It wasn’t just the initial sacrifice they made coming here, it was the continuous sacrifice of not seeing their family and friends for almost a decade at a time. When I tried comparing it to my own life, transitioning from insert medical career here to the business world was already life-altering for me, I couldn’t imagine moving to a country where you don’t speak the language, don’t understand the culture, and on top of that, don’t have a support system to lean on.

How Our Company Culture Impacted My Life

I feel like Rocket Mortgage® team members can’t go too long without ISM-dropping, and my parents uprooting their lives and coming to America is the most genuine example of “we’ll figure it out,” which they did.

The overall sense of pride I’ve developed from this has truly ignited the unwavering desire to make them proud. I’m the type of woman who is always on the move, and always responding with a sense of urgency is my M.O. If you never see me slow down, now you know why.

I’m going to end this post with a challenge for you all.

I challenge each and every one of you to find what ignites your fire this deeply and never let that fire burn low. It’s what will push you further on your toughest days and burn brightest on your best. Never forget where you came from, even if it’s just from down the hall. Humility will take you far.

Lastly, thank the people in your life that gave you the opportunity to do what you do today – your parents, caregivers, your recruiter, whomever it is. I truly don’t believe we thank the people who impact our lives nearly enough.

Today is a great day to start.

This article was written by our team member Angela Penganiban Henika, Senior Business Strategist at Rocket Mortgage.

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