One day, nearly a year after her graduation, a call comes from nowhere. It's a Mexican American builder who met her last year at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles, where she spoke about her life. He's building a small medical office in Chino Hills. Would she draft the blueprints? She's done schematic designs, but never the nitty-gritty detail work that shows where the wiring and plumbing goes. She'll have to learn quick.
"You know this is my first job?" she says.
He does, and he wants to help. She'll work for almost nothing. She just wants a chance. It might be the start of a business relationship. It might be her chance to move out of her dad's garage.
"The more you tell your story, the more you put yourself out there," she says excitedly after the conversation. "If I'd stayed home and cried my heart out over my situation, this wouldn't have happened."
Yet because she has no license and no insurance, she must enlist the help of an established architect, a former professor, whose quoted price startles her: $25,000.
She relays it to the contractor, who says it's twice as much as he wants to pay, and who says he'll keep her posted.
When the phone doesn't ring, she says, "I'm not completely heartbroken." She's already looking for other leads. Because she's been here before, and she knows what an American does.