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Gloria Rodriguez

Gloria Rodriguez, 20, from New Jersey, born in Mexico.

With DACA, I feel the freedom and hope that individuals should feel in this great nation of opportunities. I hope and pray that this freedom will not be taken from me so that I can continue to work hard, and become the first person in my family to graduate from college. When I first came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 7, I felt like stranger to the American culture. I was bullied, and I struggled assimilating to a culture that was different to what I was used to. I remember being told by one teacher that I should return to Mexico because I probably would not do anything significant in life. Nevertheless, I pushed myself to stay involved and focused. During my years in high school I was part of the National Honor Society, Skills USA, volunteered in my school and community, and was part of my church’s Youth Group. It was during that time that I learned how to really appreciate my parents’ sacrifice to bring me here, a country where freedom is a priority and education is a gift. I am the fourth of five children; four of us are high school graduates, and the youngest is still in high school. I am the first to attend college. My dad is a landscaper and my mother cleans houses with my sisters. During the time I have been in the US my parents have worked up to three jobs to provide food and shelter for us. One winter night, we did not have enough food. My mother and older siblings went around shoveling snow to make enough money for that night’s meal. Since we arrived to this country, I was aware that I was undocumented. My parents were always fearful of the immigration raids that could separate us. But, thanks to DACA and The Dream US programs, I am a recipient of incredible opportunities. I have a driver’s license, Social Security number, access to scholarships for college, and was able to attain my NJ State cosmetology license. I am studying General Science and hope to soon be able to graduate college and walk across the stage with a college degree and the opportunity to have a better job. I truly enjoy having the fortune to wake up every morning to attend classes – this is an opportunity that not everyone has. I am also working at a research lab on weekdays and a nail salon on Saturdays, taking advantage of my cosmetology license. I told my parents once that it wouldn’t matter if I had to work three jobs to pay for it or if it took me more than 10 years, I would get my college degree. In the U.S., I am able to focus fully on my studies. I once shared my story with the New York Times for their “American DREAMers” profiles. I hope it can make a difference in the lives of others.

Without DREAMers, our country would be missing out on brilliant minds that want to make this country better. We are passionate, work hard, and don’t take our opportunities for granted, but use them to inspire us to reach greater heights.