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

For Immediate Release: January 23, 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. TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college access and success program for immigrant youth, having provided 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.


This week’s DREAMer is Maria, a Scholar Graduate of California State University San Bernardino:

I am proud to work as a preschool teacher – a job I wouldn’t have without my college education and TheDream.US. One day, I hope to become an elementary school teacher and use a social justice curriculum approach in the classroom.

My college education has benefited me immensely. TheDream.US allowed me to feel confident in being able to financially afford college. They really made my dream of graduating from California State University, San Bernardino a reality. Since I had huge financial support through this scholarship, I was able to focus on completing internships and volunteer hours for the course requirements (instead of worrying about working a full-time job). Especially when compared to other undocumented students, who do have to work full-time jobs while attending college, I feel truly blessed.

Growing up, my parents always told me that I was born in Mexico, but I did not understand what being undocumented meant until my sophomore year in high school. My mom and high school guidance counselor told me how my status would limit my path to earning a college degree. I remember crying when I found out I did not qualify for federal and state financial aid. At that time in my life, the CA Dream Act and DACA were not options.

I was barely a year old when we first came to the United States.  My dad and mom got married in Mexico. Due to financial struggles, my dad planned to come to the United States to work in a factory in Los Angeles. His plan was to leave me and my mom in Mexico, and he would send us money. Then, my grandfather (his father) told him that in order to be a good father, he needed to take us with him to the United States. My parents wanted a better future for me.

At California State University, San Bernardino, my favorite classes were human development (focused in child development) classes and I became heavily involved on campus as a child enrichment intern, a lab student at the California State University, San Bernardino’s Infant/Toddler Lab School, and as lab research assistant for a cognitive psychology experiment. My deep understanding of child development makes me aware of how children learn best in a preschool class and helps me create a positive learning environment for my students. It also encourages me to strive to one day become an elementary teacher.

I am so grateful for all that I have been able to achieve. To any and all potential TheDream.US Scholars: Never give up on your dream to pursue and complete your college degree.

  • 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