By Paul June 16, 2019
Country of Origin: Haiti
Age of Arrival: 12 years old
Hometown: Naples, FL
Degree: Healthcare Administration & minor in public health
Dreamers and TPS students, we are more than immigrants, we are the country’s future. Future lawyers, doctors, nurses. We matter, and we work hard to educate ourselves and stay out of trouble.
I am a student at George Mason University studying Healthcare Administration & Public Health, and I also work full time. I plan to use my education to improve the health of communities around the world and to help create a better health care system, policy and regulation. TheDream.US scholarship is allowing me to discover exciting and meaningful new career possibilities. During my college years, I hope to gain confidence and connect with a driven community of peers and professionals. Given the current uncertainty with DACA, finishing my education is more important than ever. I believe that knowledge can never be taken from you, so I am determined and driven.
My parents always challenged me to go further than they ever were able to and to finish their education. They’ve worked hard to help me pay for college, and it hasn’t always been easy. This year, I finally received my Associate’s degree, and I have them to thank for it. I’m a first generation college student, and I couldn’t do it without my family.
My parents, my two older brothers, and I came to the states in 2008. Haiti was unstable, unsafe and my parents hope to provide a better education for the three of us. We came to the United States with visas and later filed for Temporary Protected Status. We’ve been TPS-holders since.
My loving, caring, and strong father is the backbone of my support system. He was always the provider in my family and knowing something was out of his control truly devastated him. When I was 16 years old, he sat us down and told us, “our visa is going to expire, and things are going to change.”
Our visa expiration brought a slew of challenges. But, God gave us a new path forward with TPS. Unfortunately, even with TPS, we weren’t able to afford higher education. My brothers stopped their schooling after high school, but I refused to accept that fate.
In 2014, my family and I moved to Virginia, where I waited a year before I started taking classes so I could pay in-state tuition. I began to work at a nursing home full time while taking one or two classes per semester. My father started working two jobs, so he could help me pay for more classes. I attended Northern Virginia Community Center for 4 years, and this year I finally finish. I thank my parents for not giving up, always motivating me, and reminding me that “it doesn’t matter how long it takes the important thing is that you finish.”
Even though we were seeking safety and protection, I was terrified when we first came to the States. I didn’t speak any English, so I started watching cartoons with subtitles. I encouraged myself to speak up, even when I made mistakes, I knew it was part of the process.
I started high school in Florida, and I made friends with other Haitians, which made my adjustment to the U.S easier. I started considering America home after the 2010 massive earthquake struck Haiti. After that devastation, we realized there was nothing to go back to. The Haiti we knew was gone. We donated everything we had back in Haiti to families in need. For the past eleven years, since the day of the earthquake, I’ve never returned to Haiti. America is my home.