Star Hernandez Torres June 15, 2019 Country of Origin: Mexico Age of Arrival: 4 years old Hometown: California Degree: Nursing I am a first-generation college student. I am a daughter. I am a teenage mother. I am undocumented. When I was four, my mom brought me and my five siblings to the states to escape my abusive father. She worked three jobs to support us. There were days we wouldn’t see her at all, as she spent them running from one job to another, working from 10am till 4am. She worked in a fast food restaurant, at a warehouse, and as a babysitter.Still, it wasn’t enough financially for us. We couldn’t understand what was going on or how much she was sacrificing. My second-to-oldest brother begged for money, desperately trying to achieve the American teen image. My older sister became a teen mom and moved out faster than a blink of an eye. My oldest brother was deported.My mom cried when the rent money didn’t add up. At six years old, I felt hopeless and helpless.Then, one year, a month before summer vacation, she lost all of her jobs. We spent the next year living on the streets until my grandmother found us.When I was eleven, my teacher asked me to read in front of the class, and I couldn’t. I stood in front of the class, staring down at the unfamiliar words, as fingers pointed at me and laughter echoed. I ran out of the class crying. My teacher came running after me. She told me not to be ashamed of my roots and that I was the same as everyone else. Then, she told me that I was undocumented. Throughout middle school, I was bullied–called an “alien;” told to go back to my own country.I felt unwanted and was suicidal.But, I kept my head held high and pushed forward.During my sophomore year of high school, I learned to speak and read English properly. I joined clubs and teams-soccer; Best Buddies Club, which organizes dances for children with special needs and keeps them company; and the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA), which raises money for kids with health problems. Through HOSA, I learned the power of action. I started attending cancer walks and donating to the homeless-both, now lifelong commitments.I’d always known I’d wanted to attend college, but without TheDREAM.US scholarship I wouldn’t be able to. Now, I know that school is the key to repaying my mother. College can be difficult, especially as a teen mom, but through this journey I’ve discovered my strength. When times get tough, I get up, dust the dirt off, and keep going. I will not give up.