For Immediate Release: April 16, 2020
Contact: Carli Kientzle at [email protected]
Cristina* of Lehman College 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 Cristina* a Scholar of Lehman College:
When I was just a toddler, my parents fled Colombia, because we were being persecuted by the army. Since I was so little, I don’t remember much of the journey. I am, nonetheless, eternally grateful for that decision. Instead of fearing for our lives, I am now a first-generation college student. It’s been a challenge, but, with God, everything is possible. I’ve learned that, in life, for a family to succeed, one person must succeed first. When one person succeeds, more opportunities are open to the entire family.
My college degree will be a breakthrough for my family. It will be our key to success. I now have the chance to attend Lehman College to study Nursing and will strive for the same success I had at LaGuardia Community College. I would tell potential applicants to Dream.US that hope is your strongest weapon. Where there is hope, there is a will to succeed. Keep studying; keep fighting for your future and your family’s future.
After my family left, we sought refugee status in Canada. After five years, we moved to the United States when I was six years old. Little did we know, God had bigger plans for our family. When we first moved, I struggled; I spoke French in school, but I was bullied by the others students. I even told my parents “Je ne veux pas parler français; Je veux parler anglais.” I learned English and forgot all about French. It wasn’t easy, but we were able to manage.
My family has faced so many sacrifices and challenges like loneliness, economic stress, cycles of fear and hope, and more. Our family is alone in this country. The rest of our family is still in Colombia. We can’t leave the U.S. to visit them because we’re immigrants, and we have “no right” to be here, but we’ve put our status in the hands of God.
I started viewing as America my home when I was about eight years old. My family had a stable place to live and a wonderful church to go to. We grew up here, and we still reside here. Remaining in the U.S. is important to me, because I can help provide my family a better future here.
*Cristina uses an alias
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