“Melissa” is an alias for a 22-year-old Scholar from Arizona, born in Mexico.
DREAMers will not be the only ones to benefit from our access to higher education. Educated DREAMers will continue on to create companies and job opportunities. There are too many amazing minds going to waste — who knows what our country has missed out on already because of DREAMers kept from fulfilling their dreams?My family’s story in the United States begins before I was born — an unusual story for a Dreamer. My older brother and my younger siblings are all US citizens, but not me. My mom originally came to the United States with her brothers when she was about 19. She fell in love and gave birth to my older brother. Then the relationship turned physically and emotionally abusive which led her to return to Mexico and give birth to me.Being the single parent of two children in Mexico, she couldn’t make ends meet. She decided to make the trip back to the United States and entrusted our care to my grandparents. During this trip, she met her second partner. He may not be my biological father, but he’s my dad. My adjustment to the US was a bit difficult — I had to adjust to a new country, to new customs, and to an unfamiliar language. The first day of school, I was so afraid that I would not be able to communicate with my classmates and with my teacher. With a knot in my throat and red, watery eyes, I asked the girl sitting across from me if she spoke Spanish. When she responded in English, I just nodded and lowered my head. I felt as if my work was double because it took me double the time and effort to finish. Thankfully, my teachers were very patient and caring and made extra time to help me. This made some students jealous and they bullied me. They poked fun that I couldn’t even pronounce my name correctly. School wasn’t the hardest part of assimilating though, It was feeling like an outsider in my own family. My mom had left me in my grandmother’s care when I was only two years old. Now, I had two siblings, who turned away every time I tried to hold them. My older brother had arrived two years earlier and now spoke English – he was different from the brother I’d known. I was a stranger in my own family. Slowly, I started to learn English. With the language, came the relationships. I started to make friends and with time I reconnected with my family. America became home. Now, this is the only country where I can see my future. After high school, I was accepted to Arizona State University, but I couldn’t afford it. With the couple scholarships I received and help from my parents, I attended community college. My first year, it was hard to adapt to the different curriculum. But, my second year of college I excelled and joined the National Honor Society and Phi Beta Lambda. PBL introduced me to the world of business, a sector I hope to pursue. Through TheDream.US scholarship, I now finally attend ASU. At ASU, I’m working to protect other undocumented students. Through my work with Undocumented Students for Education Equity (USEE), I’m helping to defend in-state tuition for undocumented students
and to call for the Dream Act. When I graduate, I hope to create a scholarship to help other students achieve their dream of education. We, DREAMers, are the only ones who can be the heroes in our own stories. We must venture out and fight for what we want and find ways and opportunities to accomplish our goals.