Cisneros's fundamental idea is the notion of individual achievement and progress highlighted in her statement that "I've done all kinds of things I didn't think I could do." From her background and the conditions from which she grew, she was able to enter the pantheon where many accomplishments highlight the very essence of this idea. One such endeavor was attending "a prestigious university." Involved within this, Cisneros argues that she has "studied with famous writers, and taken an MFA degree" and "taught poetry in schools in Illinois and Texas. I’ve gotten an NEA grant and run away with it as far as my courage would take me." From a world where Cisneros was a "shy girl" who "could not come out of her shell," it is clear that she did so much that she previously felt was unable to do.
These achievements are seen as such because they challenge the idea and belief that a girl like Cisernos would not be able to have been seen as being able to do what she had done. A girl like Cisernos would not be so immediately associated with achievements that embody the very essence of prestigious scholarship. It is in this light where Cisernos lists her achievements, endeavors that challenge the preconceived notion that one might have about a "shy girl" who is introverted. In doing so, she has been able to "spin straw into gold."