For Immediate Release: May 1, 2018
Contact: Nicky Vogt at 610-389-1314 and [email protected]
Washington, DC – TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for undocumented immigrant youth, is launching a “DREAMer of the Week” feature – a weekly profile of two TheDream.US-affiliated Scholars whose stories offer a powerful example why Congress passing legislation resolving the crisis facing DREAMers and TPS holders will be good for America.
From coast to coast and north to south, the Scholars’ stories are especially powerful and poignant as we have passed the March 5th deadline for legislative action that President Trump gave Congress when he announced the end of DACA. The continued inaction and uncertainty is affecting Scholars’ lives, health, and futures and threatens to keep Scholars from fulfilling their incredible potential.
The DREAMers of the Week are Jafet of Durham, NC and Eastern Connecticut State University and Jaziel Olmeda of Phoenix College.
One day I asked my father, “What would you if you won the lottery?”
He simply answered, “Go back to school.”
My mother and father were both born in the town of Pahuatlán, Puebla and experienced the hardships of poverty and starvation. My father had the opportunity to finish high school. My mother wishes she could have done the same, but she only made it to middle school.
While both were driven towards higher education, money prevented them from accomplishing their goals. My father is very curious about how things work – the mechanisms behind them. He is constantly learning, though he didn’t receive a college education. My mom, who is also committed to learning, worked as a teacher’s servant in exchange for free night classes at a teacher’s house and a free place to stay. The living conditions became unbearable, and she quit and returned home — her ambitions crushed.
I have the opportunity to achieve higher education, and I want to make sure I fulfill my potential and reward my parents’ sacrifice.
Adjusting to life here was hard. In Mexico, we had walked everywhere we needed to go. In North Carolina, we needed cars to get anywhere. In the beginning, I was frequently frustrated — I couldn’t communicate with anyone, my clothes were different. I had to accept that I was different.
My sister is one year older than me and is currently studying in community college. We always talk about how later on in life, we’re always going to have each other’s backs just as we do now. She has her own ambitions of opening up a business and taking care of my parents when we get older. That’s something we both share. She has even outlined a plan for how we can both save money, so that our younger brother won’t have to worry about paying for college.
We want to give our brother everything our parents wish that they could’ve given to us. While they may not be able to give us everything we wanted, they gave us everything we needed — and that is more than enough.
DACA has opened the doors to my future, including TheDream.US scholarship, that will go towards giving my family, my community, and myself a better future.
Right now, I’m working to help as many people as I can. I have a passion for programming and multiple ideas for websites to help the Hispanic community. Currently, I’m working on designing a website for my mother’s food business. Similarly, my uncles have their own companies, but they lack a crucial marketing tool: a website. I believe that by helping them, I can create more jobs for the community. After college, I hope to introduce minorities to technology careers like the one I aim to obtain. I have cousins who just began high school, and they’ve both asked me to be their mentor. Honored, I accepted without hesitation. In the future, I want to work as a software developer or maybe open a business in the technology industry to create more jobs.
Without college, and without DACA and TheDream.US scholarship, I’d be working in construction with my father, afraid to leave my house — living in constant fear and frustration about not being able to do the simple things that others take for granted, including traveling, driving, or applying to college.
Now, I hope to graduate with my degree in computer science and continue my education by obtaining a PhD. And I want to give back to my parents for all they sacrificed to help me to be where I am.
Jaziel Olmeda’s story:
My family is my safe haven. My family stood by my side through my worst days. As a child, I went through something no child should ever go through. I was diagnosed with cancer. Having to live with this disease was difficult; constantly being hospitalized, ill and not being able to interact with my own family due to how weak my own body was.
What my family did teach me was that no matter how challenging your situation is, never give up. Even though I was pronounced dead at a certain point, my parents fought for me to live. I am not only a one-time cancer survivor, but a three-time survivor, and I am extremely blessed for that.
I came to America at age one. Growing up in America provides an individual with endless possibilities to grow and succeed. I began to view America as my home the moment I stepped into my pre-school. I felt comfortable with each and every individual in my class. Remaining in the United States throughout the years has been extremely important to me because of all the opportunities it has granted me. The United States is my home.
Higher education for DREAMers is extremely important. We have so many attributes that many other students don’t possess. Such as bilingualism, overcoming challenges due to our legal status, and having the ambition to succeed. I came to Phoenix College because of their extremely successful nursing program. My goal in life is to be a Pediatric Oncology nurse and provide advice to those who are going through what I went through as a child.
I believe I have what it takes to work in this field and be an inspiration for young children battling cancer. My long-term goal is to have my own charity where all proceeds are given directly to Phoenix Children’s Hospital to help families in need.
I know that I will never be able to repay my family for all the life values they have taught me and all those rough nights they stood by my side. What I do know is that, thanks to them and opportunities that encourage higher education for DREAMers, I am now pursuing my dream of becoming a Pediatric Oncology nurse and being able to nurture other children who are battling cancer.
Despite several court-ordered injunctions keeping DACA renewal applications in place for the time being, TheDream.US strongly supports Congress passing legislation permanently resolving DREAMers’ status.
- Read through a story bank of TheDream.US Scholars here
- Find out more about TheDream.US here