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Elton

Country of Origin: Mexico

Age of Arrival: 8 months old

Hometown: El Paso, TX

Degree: Computer Science

My mom has always made me aware of how important it is to do your best. As an immigrant, some people have lower expectations of us. She taught me how to break through the barriers of expectations and how to succeed – not just to prove people wrong, since immigrants do not have to prove themselves out of these prejudices, but because she knew what I was capable of.

My mother was only able to attend school in Mexico until she was about eight years old. Times were tough, and my grandfather couldn’t afford for her and her sisters to continue their studies. So, as soon as she could, my mother decided our family would come to the United States to pursue a better life for all of us. Just like most people who come here, she wanted nothing but a limitless and bright future for her children.

For the past 18 years, she’s worked tirelessly as a housekeeper to make our American lives possible. She works long days and full weeks to keep a roof over our heads. At one point my older sister had to drop out of high school to take care of me while my mom worked, but fortunately she has since been able to receive her GED. My brother was the first in our family to graduate from high school, and soon, I will be the first one in our family to graduate from college.

I was five years old when my mother tried her best to explain that I was undocumented. I remember asking her if we could travel to Disneyland, and she tried to explain why that was, at least for the time, impossible. Traveling across state lines was just one, among many other things, that would be too risky to do as an undocumented family. Although I was hit hard with the facts at an early age about what it was to be undocumented in America, I have still tried to live every day here as the best person that I can be. I learned English quickly, I studied hard in school, and I did everything in my power to be successful.

Over the years, friends, teachers, and professors have helped me to overcome barriers and contributed to my personal growth and education. I am extremely proud to have grown up with them by my side, and I am certain that without them my life would have had many more difficulties.

Now that I am in college, I am looking for ways to reach out and help anyone who does not have a support system. I want them to know that there are people out there who believe in them and can help them succeed. Given the opportunity, I’d tell fellow DREAMers and undocumented immigrants that in order to exceed your own expectations, you have to believe in yourself, and then, once you truly believe you’re going to make big changes in the world, go out and do it!

Quite frankly, I have no idea where I would be if I wasn’t in university and didn’t have TheDream.US scholarship. I know that I would be struggling, but I can’t imagine what I would be doing. I did not have alternate plans. I focused on getting into college and told myself not to focus on any other possible outcome.

College classes were tough at first. I felt lost and I was trying to find my way, but thanks to my support system, I have since found my path. My fellow DREAMers and TheDream.US team have been my biggest support system— I know that if I ever need help, all I have to do is reach out.

Calling the United States a home can be hard to do when there is still a very large number of people trying to get rid of you, your family, and your friends. We are often unwelcome here. Despite these obstacles, I know that this is my home, and it is my responsibility to make it a more welcoming place for future immigrants.

I greatly appreciate the incredible number of people who have welcomed my family into this community and helped us to establish our home here. I only wish that the country was as welcoming. Luckily for us, we don’t just wish, we work.

Undocumented immigrants are just like everyone else when it comes to dreams. We all dream about our futures, about what we want in life. We have to start somewhere and then we work hard to get there. The difference lies in the opportunities provided to us. I think we deserve a chance to achieve our dreams. Many of us want to make changes, improve lives, and make this country a better place for everyone in it, just like any other American.

TheDream.US National Scholarship Applications are still open. The deadline to apply is Feb 29, 2024.

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