The United States is known to be the land of opportunity; where dreams can be achieved and where lives can start anew. It’s a prime destination for many who can’t find work and a place that promises a better and brighter future.
Angel Molina, a 20-year-old kid from Ponce, Puerto Rico, was one of millions who sought out to make the U.S. his home.
Not satisfied with his situation in Puerto Rico, Molina wanted a change, and that change would guide him to the Lone Star State, Texas, to find a job and build a new life. He found that change and worked hard to get a high-paying job and an apartment in Fort Worth, Texas. But it wasn’t easy.
Working job after job in Puerto Rico ranging from pizza making, operating a food truck, and walking miles on end selling ice cream in a cart, Molina began to think about his options about what he wanted for his future. One alternative was to join the military.
“Young people feel the need to sign up because there was nothing else to do,” Molina said. “In Puerto Rico, there’s not a lot of work available, and if there is, it’s not great work.”
Molina said that life in Puerto Rico wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either. “It was a struggle sometimes,” Molina said.
“When I would wake up, in Puerto Rico, I would stick to the bed because of the heat and humidity,” said Molina, who had no air-conditioning. “It’s always hot.” He emphasized he had no air conditioner where he lived in Puerto Rico.
He was in luck because his cousin and her husband offered to help him come to Fort Worth to find a job. His cousin also let Molina stay with her and her husband until he could get settled and land a job.
“The main point why I wanted to come to Texas was to start over again,” Molina said.
He left everything he had in Puerto Rico behind, his family and his friends.
Molina has always had to do things on his own. His mother died at age 33 when he was 5 years old and he never knew his father. He was taken on by his aunt and her husband, Cruz Ramirez, his Godfather.
“He has become a more experienced person by coming to Texas on his own,” Cruz Ramirez said in Spanish. Ramirez also came to Texas months after Angel had.
Living in Texas for only a couple months, Molina found a job as a clean-up associate at an In-N-Out Burger in Fort Worth with a starting hourly wage at $10.
“I got lucky,” Molina said, explaining it beat the minimum wage of $7.25.
A couple months later, Molina got himself an apartment that was within walking distance to work. Now, Molina said, he enjoys the cold on his nose when he walks to work in the early mornings in Texas’ fall.
“One day it’s cold and the next it’s hot here in Texas. It’s great!” he said.
“It was better to move here, I mean I have everything here. I have my job, my apartment and now I just need a car!” Molina said. “I’m going for the car. It’s right there.”
“His positive attitude is contagious,” said Froylan Cepeda, a co-worker at In-N-Out Burger. “He always comes in with a good attitude and is always friendly. Every time I work with him, I find myself smiling and having a good laugh with him.”
“He always comes in early,” Cepeda said.
In January, Molina was recognized at an In-N-Out Burger store meeting for never being late to work.
Molina said if he were to go back to Puerto Rico now, people would see him as a totally different person. “I would probably be more noticeable there. I have more skills now.”
Now, Molina has one more goal to accomplish.
“I want to open a gym,” he said. “If I can accomplish doing all of this, then I can accomplish that.”