For Immediate Release: December 12, 2019
Contact: Carli Kientzle at [email protected]
Cristina, Graduate of Cal State University-San Bernardino 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. TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college access and success program for immigrant youth, having provided 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.
This week’s DREAMer is Cristina, Graduate of Cal State University-San Bernardino:
Family has always played a central role in my life. My mother tells me that, in coming to America, her biggest sacrifice was leaving her own parents. A month after we left, my maternal grandfather died. It nearly broke my mom that she couldn’t say her last goodbye. When we were younger, I didn’t realize what she had given up. I was upset with both of my parents for making us leave our grandparents. But, I know now that thanks to my parents sacrifice, my sisters and I did not endure nearly half of what they experienced while they crossed the border, and for that I will forever remain grateful. Although I was awarded with the scholarship, I remained working my full-time job because I wanted to help out my family financially, especially my sisters. I wanted to provide them with a decent childhood and be an example that with hard work and dedication anything is possible. My sisters are my everything, so I will continue to fight for my goals and I hope they can look up to me one day.
I’ve worked really hard throughout my college journey, and I hope I can inspire others to go for their dreams and not let struggles bring you down. It breaks my heart to know that due to the lack of a piece of paper many DREAMers are afraid to reach for their goals. The fear of deportation and financial struggles are stopping so many of us from thriving, but with sharing my story I hope to be an example that with determination, positivity, hope, and perseverance one can accomplish and overcome obstacles. My career goal is to become a counselor and help those in need of guidance. I want to be able to impact someone’s life and lead them to the right path for them just as TheDream US did for me.
For the many other DREAMers facing uncertainty, I urge them to keep their hopes high. Do not let fear stop you from taking the steps you want in order to excel in your college career. Demonstrate your abilities and your worth. You are doing this not only for yourself, but for your family and community. There will be tough days, and sometimes tougher days to deal with, but where there is a will there’s a way. El querer es poder y si quieres puedes. Every single one of us has the ability to succeed. Stay motivated, don’t lose hope, and wake up every day grateful with a positive attitude.
Despite the looming uncertainty with DACA, I remain hopeful. I know it may be difficult, but I know with the support, there will be a way. We have not given up yet, and we won’t any time soon. I plan to work extra hard in hopes of saving some income for emergencies, and I plan to keep telling my story in hopes of change to occur. AQUI SE RESPIRA LUCHA!
We arrived on June 6, 2000 when I was four years old. My brave mother not only crossed the border while 9 months pregnant, but also gave birth to my younger sister just three days after arriving. Now, nineteen years later, DACA has provided me with the privilege of getting a work permit, a driver’s licence, and a temporary relief of my status. DACA allowed me to pursue my higher education while simultaneously allowing me to provide not just for myself, but also for my family. Although DACA has not giving me citizenship, it has given me something far more powerful. It provided me with the ability to grow in a setting where it seemed that undocumented individuals could not strive for greatness, it gave me the ability to drive without fear, to work without any limits, and it has given me a community in which I know I am not alone, it has given me a state of temporary peace and relief.
College was the toughest journey I’ve encountered. I was the first to go to college in my family, and I had no one to seek help from. I spoke to my parents about going to college, and, although my dad was happy to hear my dreams and aspirations, he told me, “I’m happy for you mija, but I’m telling you right now I will not be able to help you financially, and I actually need to ask you to get a job and help us with the rent.”
While attending California State San Bernardino, I worked full time and was a full time student. It was extremely difficult, but I knew the sacrifices I had to make in order to get through college as well as to help my family out. I was constantly the first to leave my house as early as 4 am and the last to come home around 11pm. I dealt with stress, mental breakdowns, and always lacked sleep. There were times in which I would ask myself if it is all worth it and I was scared that It will all be taken away from me due to my citizenship status. Regardless of my fears, I kept pushing, overcoming all the stereotypes and obstacles that came my way.
TheDream.US has been a huge blessing in my life. Through the scholarship, I was able to work full-time to provide for my family while the scholarship aid me from school tuition expenses. I am the oldest of six daughters, and for the longest time I wanted to help my dad financially in order to provide more for my sisters and overall live a higher quality of life. This scholarship has allowed me to save up some of my income for my car, family emergencies, my own expenses, and overall save up for my master’s program. Without this scholarship my journey would have been tougher and perhaps delayed, I thank the program with all my heart and I am forever grateful for such an opportunity.
My college education will continue to benefit me in numerous ways throughout my life. Already, it taught me that I am capable of whatever I set my mind to and that I can surpass any expectation or stereotype. As far as my career, it will benefit me because of the skills I’ve acquired and the lessons I have learned, especially the notion that we can accomplish way more than we think we can.
This scholarship has brightened the path for me and my family, and I am extremely grateful for the community it has introduced me to. I realised that I am not alone, that there are others that understand me and who do not look down upon me for lacking papers. NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL, I am and will constantly continue to fight for my goals, I’ve come this far and it is only the beginning. As a first generation, low-income, female, Mexican, and undocumented I am fighting every single day, and I am so proud of me. We are capable, we are strong, we are unafraid, we are DREAMERS!
- Read through TheDream.US Scholar story-bank, featuring powerful personal reflections from Scholars about their lives, journeys, and future goals here
- Watch a new video featuring TheDream.US college graduates online here