Country of Origin: Mexico
Age of Arrival: 3 years old
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
When I learned that I had been awarded TheDream.US scholarship, my heart skipped a beat. It was the start of a new story. With the help of Dominican University and TheDream.US, I will be completing my bachelor’s degree. I plan to study marketing.. Aside from my major, what I want from my college experience is love, knowledge, experience, growth, and power.
To those skeptical of DACA and TPS, I would show them face of the millions of people helped by these programs – not just undocumented people but the American economy and citizens. DACA/TPS recipients are doctors, nurses, teachers, business owners, taxpayers, home owners, and so much more. We are classmates of your children. We are students. But most importantly, we are humans that want an education and a chance to succeed in the country we call home.
My parents were always open with me about my status. They taught me to work twice as hard to get somewhere in life. They insisted however that, with education, everything is possible. I never really felt uncomfortable about my undocumented status, since I received my DACA status at a young age. I could work and go to college. But I knew I had to walk on eggshells, because I didn’t have anything guaranteed. My life turned upside down when I found out that the Trump administration was threatening DACA. I felt hated just because of my undocumented status and my skin color. It was the first time I felt unwanted in this country.
I started to view America as my home when I was in middle school. I joined the school’s soccer team, made friends, started losing my accent, and my grades started improving. I was building relationships and friendships. I started placing my roots in American soil. I loved going to school and saw a future for myself in this country.
I came to the United States when I was only 3 years old. My father was the first one to touch American soil. My mother stayed in Mexico with my two sisters, my baby brother, and me. My father would work in the United States and send money back to my mother in Mexico.
My mother decided that she wanted our family to be together. We crossed the border with my mother, my 12-year-old sister, my 5-year-old sister, my 1-year-old brother and me. My father was waiting for us in the United States. When I finally saw my dad, I ran to him.
My adjustment to the United States was a series of phases. At first, it was difficult because of the language barrier. My parents spoke Spanish at home, and I was learning English at school. When I was younger, I held on strongly to the idea that I was going to go back to Mexico. During elementary school, it was difficult to keep up with the academic requirements, since English was my second language. I vividly remember being terrified of reading out loud in class, so I would go to the library to check out books and read out loud at night to improve my verbal skills. I focused so much of my energy on improving my English that I started forgetting my native language.
I was growing up with a culture and language that my parents did not understand, which created problems between my parents and me. For example, sleepovers are a common thing in the United States, but my parents never let me attend one. During middle school, my academics improved, and I felt more at home in the United States. Problems at home increased when I was entering high school. My parents felt like they were losing their daughter to the American people and culture.
This created a toxic environment at home. My grades kept improving, and my interactions with teachers increased. During my junior year in high school, I took dual enrollment classes at my local community college. When my acceptance and scholarship letters started arriving, my parents didn’t seem to care or believe in my future. I decided to take matters into my own hands and looked at the best options for my future. Community college felt like heaven; there was so much knowledge and a relaxed energy.
My English teacher during my junior year of high school made me believe in myself. With her help, I got a 23 ACT score and could take a Credit Court Course during my senior year. In addition, my ACT score gave me the opportunity to attend community college to finish my associate’s degree with a full ride. I didn’t have to pay for tuition, books, or fees. She was like my second mother that looked out for me when I wasn’t following my path towards success. She talked so highly of me that I finally believed what she was saying. Now, with her continued support and TheDream.US, I am a junior at Dominican University and will continue to chase my dreams. Lastly, thanks to my immigrant parents that risked their lives and left their home for a better future for their children.