The following personal story is from a Dreamer that just recently started graduate school.
Going through school, I never saw myself any different from the other students until I realized my lack of “papers” would slam the door of opportunity in my face. For some people, graduating is a dream come true; for others, like myself, graduating means having your dreams deferred indefinitely.
I was brought to the United States at the age of six by my parents. They hoped to give my siblings and I a better life.
In elementary and middle school, I excelled academically. Teachers and other students started to talk about college, but I kept quiet. I felt hopeless due to my undocumented status.
My friends would ask about my future plans and all I could do is hold back my tears, smile and say, “I am not sure.” I finally got the courage to ask my counselor about my options as an undocumented student that wanted to continue into higher education. All she said was, “there is nothing I can do.”
I felt trapped until I found the organization Jovenes Inmigrantes por un Futuro Mejor at Lee High School. I learned that I did have the option to attend college, but that I was limited to certain schools.
I applied to the University of Houston because it was the best option.
To me, the college application process was frightening because I wanted to ensure they classified me as a state resident. Texas offers DREAMers in-state residency if they meet certain requirements, which I did.
I was finally accepted into the University of Houston.
During my first two years at UH, the financial aid I received covered less than half of my tuition. The rest I paid from my own pockets.
To cover tuition, I held different jobs. My mother, whom I thank God for, has always been by my side to help me financially.
In college, I still felt alone. I didn’t disclose my immigration status to many people. As I slowly began to reveal my situation to close friends, the common reaction was “how do you do it?”
After taking their questions time and time again, I knew that I had to find a way to educate the community and help those that felt as isolated as I did. I became more involved with JIFM and helped establish Familias Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha.
My goal is to empower students that were in my situation to pursue higher education and educate our community about the various resources that are available to them.
I graduated from the University of Houston in 2009 with a Bachelor of Art in psychology and minor in Mexican America Studies. As I walked on the stage to recieve my diploma, I couldn’t explain my feelings.
I was overwhelmed with mixed emotions once again. I achieved my goal but what’s next?
I am not able to work in my field due to my immigration status. It is the sad reality that many of my fellow DREAMERS face after graduating college.
The fate of many undocumented students lies with Congress, voters and President Barack Obama to pass the DREAM Act. This piece of legislation would give us hope once again and a chance to live a productive life in the country that we grew up in.
I am 23 years old and the first in my family to attend and graduate from college. Now I am pursuing a Masters in Social Work. I only ask for an opportunity to fully engage in my career once I finish my masters.