Logo for: TheDream.us

Maria Valencia Ochoa

Country of Origin: Mexico

Age of Arrival: 5 years old

Hometown: Houston, TX

Degree: Biology/Nursing

I’ve always known that I want a career that helps people, but I never knew which career would be best for me. Now, I know that, as a nurse, I will be able to truly help my community. My goal is to obtain my bachelor’s degree, work for a year to gain experience, and then obtain my master’s to become a nurse anesthetist (CRNA). I want to buy my parents a house and give my mother the garden she’s longed dreamed of. That is when I will know I made it in life, and that the sacrifices were worth it. Those dreams are impossible without college, and college wouldn’t be possible without TheDream.US.


I’ve always struggle with my status and wished that I was a citizen so things would come easier for me. At times I even hated my own skin color and thought that I was never enough in this country. But now I am proud. I am proud that I was made from my parents struggles and that I was the first one from my family to complete high school and pursue a career. I am proud to be an undocumented student defying the stereotypes that America had for me. I am proud that I’ll set the example for my siblings. But mostly I am thankful for my parents for working non-stop in order, so we could have a better life.


I was heavily involved throughout high school, because I knew it would help me get into college.

I created a charity club  to give back to our community, and we were able to donate to TELETON USA . I also joined a political club for girls my junior year of high school that educated me about the American government and the election going on. I started volunteering at an elderly shelter my sophomore year when I got my social security, since I needed it to volunteer there and I absolutely loved it. Those are three things that I’m most proud of, but I also joined the basketball team, the poetry club and did a week long program at NASA.


When I was little, I remember my dad being in the States. I was about to turn 6 when I came to the USA. My mom and I crossed the border – we walked through mountains. I was the only kid crossing – everyone else was an adult.  There was this guy who helped my mom by carrying me most of the journey, since it was a long walk and I couldn’t keep up. I remember almost being caught and hiding in bushes from ICE. When we made it across the border, there were houses, and I remember there was a dog barking at us, while we tried to hide. A woman yelled at us in a language I didn’t recognize – English.


After a few days in a safe house in Arizona, we went to California with my aunt. After that, we came to Texas, where I was finally able to see my dad. My parents sacrificed their families, so I could grow up in the land of opportunities. I’m forever thankful for them both.


Growing up in America was a bit hard, since I had two cultures surrounding me. At times, I lost touch with my roots and my actual Mexican culture. Sometimes growing up in America I felt ashamed for being undocumented, seeing how other undocumented immigrants are viewed here and treated. It was hard, but I knew it was going to be worth it. If my parents sacrificed so much, the least I could do was adjust to this county.