Country of Origin: Mexico
Age of Arrival: 1 year old
Hometown: Fairfield, CA
Degree: criminal justice
I was about a year and two months when we came to America. I grew up just like all the other American kids, I never really felt left out or bullied for being born somewhere else. But I also was scared about our family’s immigration status.
My parents have led hard lives. Both dropped out of school at young ages to work and support their families. They work in the heat of the fields during the summer, working 12 hours at a time to put food on Americans’ tables. In the winter, they scramble to look for work.
In third grade we were taking a big state test and we had to put our information down for our test booklet. The teacher didn’t want us to mess up, so she proceeded to read our information out loud for each of us and one of the questions was where we were born. She called everyone’s names and everyone was born here until she got to mine. I was the only one that was not born in the U.S. After that, my classmates would make jokes and ask me if I had a green card. I went home and asked my mom what it meant and she explained to me. I was terrified, I thought that any moment now someone was going to come and take me away and take my parents away.
Now, I am a first-generation college student and I wish to set an example for my little brother, who is now entering high school. Higher education is the whole reason that the parents of us DREAMers left their country of origin behind and sacrificed so much. They left all their loved ones without knowing if they would ever see them again or without even knowing if they would make it here alive. Without higher education for us, it would be like all those sacrifices of our parents were for nothing. That motivates me.
Because we came from poverty, we know what it is like to struggle. Because we see our parents live day-to-day on a paycheck, we know why it is so important to take advantage of the opportunities America and higher education provide us.
Everyone has the right to an education and to make the most out of their potential.