For Immediate Release: February 27, 2020
Contact: Carli Kientzle at [email protected]
Aide of George Mason University is TheDream.US’ “DREAMer of the Week”
Washington, DC – TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for undocumented immigrant youth, is continuing its “DREAMer of the Week” feature – a weekly profile of a TheDream.US Scholar whose story offers a powerful example of the incalculable contributions of DREAMers to America.
This week’s DREAMer is Aide, a Scholar of George Mason University:
After high school, I did not think about applying for college right away. I always knew I was undocumented, but I never knew what it meant. When it came time to apply for FAFSA in 11th grade, I knew that I needed a social security number and unfortunately, since I was undocumented, there was no way for me to obtain one.
One day, I was reading a local Latino newspaper and there was a story from a young lady from Harrisonburg, VA, who was expressing her gratitude to the state governor who allowed undocumented students to enroll by paying in-state tuition. This inspired me and I started school that following semester. Despite getting pregnant after two semesters, I finished my associate’s degree in a few years.
Having obtained an associate’s degree, and using the money I had saved from full-time work at a restaurant, I thought about transferring to a four-year university to study part-time. A couple of weeks into school, my partner was detained by immigration and was put in removal proceedings. My grades began to drop and I used all my saved up money for lawyers and fees — I had no money left to go back to school. In 2014, I heard about TheDream.US Scholarship and I applied. I was delighted to find out that the school I had gotten into was a partner college. I loved science and research – some of my favorite classes at college were genetics, biochemistry, neuroscience, and biotechnology.
Sometimes it was difficult to study while having a young daughter – I would often work until late at night on campus, sometimes Saturday mornings, and it often meant I couldn’t participate in any extracurricular activities. But now, I am very proud of my job. I work as an HIV Prevention Specialist for the Fredericksburg Area HIV/AIDS Support Services.
College is hard, and you have to work hard, but if you set your mind to it then you will succeed. TheDream.US has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams, and the confidence to know I have people behind me who are supportive of my journey. Remember: you can do it as long as you work hard for it.
I made the journey to the US when I was 13 years old – I have vivid memories of walking for hours through the mountains and across the border. Living conditions in New York were difficult. in order to save money, and with the ultimate goal of buying a house in mind, all four of us lived and slept in one singular room. My parents slept on the floor so me and my sister could share a bed. Both my parents worked multiple jobs to make ends meet so me and my sister became pretty independent from a young age.
DACA changed my life. It enabled me to get a drivers license and search for a better-suited job, which then allowed me to fit school into my schedule. The thought of Congress not protecting DREAMers and those with TPS is scary, especially because I have a young daughter. Regardless of what Congress does, no one can take away the degree I have worked so hard to achieve.
I will continue to work hard for my parents and anyone with DACA status. DACA, however, is not meant to be permanent and it leaves people in limbo. We don’t want special status, we just want the opportunity to adjust our status. We are not here to take anything but we are here to give back to America, which has given us so many opportunities.
TheDream.US has provided over 5,000 college scholarships to DREAMers at more than 70 partner colleges in 16 states and Washington, DC.
The Scholars’ stories are especially powerful and poignant following the Supreme Court oral arguments on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an executive action, which provided temporary legal protection for undocumented youth, terminated by President Trump in September 2017. The legal limbo and uncertainty is affecting Scholars’ lives, health, and futures and threatens to keep Scholars from fulfilling their incredible potential.
- Read through TheDream.US Scholar story-bank, featuring powerful personal reflections from Scholars about their lives, journeys, and future goals here
- Hear from two TheDream.US graduates, now working as a teacher and a nurse, discussing the impact of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program online here
- Watch a new video featuring TheDream.US college graduates online here