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Maria of California State University San Bernardino is TheDream.US’ “DREAMer of the Week”

For Immediate Release: April 30, 2020

Contact: Carli Kientzle at [email protected]


Maria of California State University San Bernardino 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 Maria, a Scholar of California State University San Bernardino:

If I could not go to college, I would be working with my parents in the fields. That was my only alternative. Thankfully my role model informed me about TheDream.US scholarship opportunities. I decided to take the chance and apply. I was so thankful to receive a scholarship from TheDream.US, for without it, I wouldn’t have the chance to accomplish my dream and achieve a college degree.

At California State University San Bernardino, I expect to broaden my horizons by meeting people from other ethnicities and other Dreamers who share similar struggles. My goal is to major in liberal studies to become an elementary teacher with a concentration in Mathematics. I love kids, and I feel I can make a positive change in their lives. I want to teach them the importance of education and how focusing on their goals will keep them away from trouble. I want to bring those lessons back to my community.

It is very important for me to obtain my college degree, because I want to set an example that, despite my documentation, I can do anything I set my mind to. I am grateful for my mother for always encouraging me to reach for my dreams and for TheDream.US for placing higher education within my grasp. To Dreamers striving for a college degree, don’t let anything or anyone stop you from getting what you want to do in life. Remember we are all in this together because we are people with a dream. To those who are skeptical about DACA, we are people who want just a better life. We want peace and freedom like anyone else.

My father was the first to arrive in the United States in 1999. My mother and I later joined him by crossing the Mexican border into California. It took us several attempts, but we eventually made it into the States. I am the oldest of four siblings, two of whom are still in Michoacán, Mexico. I have not seen them since we left Mexico 11 years ago, and I miss them every day. My whole family is undocumented except my youngest sibling who is a citizen. I’m a first-generation student and a DACA recipient.

Given the dangerous living conditions, my family had no choice but to leave Mexico. My mother and father are farm workers. They both have only elementary level education. As farm laborers, their work is physically challenging and time consuming, and often goes without appreciation. My parents built our lives in the U.S. from scratch, and I admire them for all of their hard work. I am grateful for every sacrifice they made to bring me to the U.S., because we left so much behind in Michoacán, Mexico.

Things were tough when we first arrived. We only had the clothes on our backs and slept on the floor for a while. It was very difficult to adjust to my life in the U.S. because of the language barrier. My mother decided to hold me back one grade level so that I was able to learn English and keep up with my academics. I also had to make new friends and adjust to my new neighborhood.

I have always known that we were undocumented though no one ever said it explicitly. I’ve always known what CBP and ICE do. After adapting to life in the United States, I began to see this country as my home. While I still have respect for Mexico, and one day I hope to visit my family there, the United States is my only home because my entire support system is here.

I have always been very involved in my academics and extracurriculars. During high school, I played varsity soccer and swam. I was also a member of the Red Cross and the secretary of Safe Club. I have always wanted to continue with higher education, but I did not know how attainable that goal would be due to my immigration status.


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