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Zuri of University of Houston and “Isabel” of University of North Texas at Dallas are TheDream.US’ “DREAMers of the Week”

For Immediate Release: August 6, 2020

Contact: Carli Kientzle at [email protected]


Zuri of University of Houston and “Isabel” of University of North Texas at Dallas are TheDream.US’ “DREAMers 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 stories offers a powerful example of the incalculable contributions of DREAMers to America.

This week’s DREAMers are Zuri, a Scholar Grad of University of Houston and “Isabel,” a Scholar of University of North Texas at Dallas: 



When I continued my studies at my community college, I had a lot of moments where I wanted to give up. I thought to myself, “Do I really need a college degree to succeed in life?” However, I realized that a college degree is something valuable that will never be taken away from me. As an undocumented immigrant, I will continue to prove to myself that I am capable of achieving anything that I set my mind to. My biggest worry throughout my undergraduate career was how I was going to be able to afford transferring to a University. I knew that I was not going to allow my parents to pay a single dime. Therefore, I took on three jobs, saved my money, and was able to enroll at the University of Houston. I am extremely proud of myself and thankful that I never let my immigration status get in the way of achieving my goals. Now, thanks to the hard work of myself, my family, and the Dream.US, I will begin my journey with a full scholarship.

At a young age, I knew I was born in Mexico, but did not necessarily understand the struggles that I would have to face. It was not until DACA came along that I began to comprehend my immigration status and realize that I was one out of thousands of Dreamers in this country. Still, I didn’t fully make sense of everything that was going on. The severity of my situation impacted me during my senior year of high school when I began to apply for scholarships and financial aid. I remember being extremely devastated, because I was academically eligible for a lot of them, but my status made me automatically ineligible. However, I never made any excuses for myself. I worked hard and devoted my time to applying for as many scholarships as I could and received over $5,000 in awards.

During my high school years, I was involved in the National Honor Society. I was not able to fully participate in many organizations, because, as the oldest sibling, I spent a lot of my time at home taking care of my younger brother and sister. However, being the oldest has helped me serve as a role model for my siblings. I learned how to be responsible at such a young age and take on responsibilities that have helped shaped me into the wise individual that I am today.

My experience in America has been a roller coaster. I have had my ups and downs. There are plenty of times when I have felt excluded due to my immigration status. However, America is the place I grew up in and the only country I know. I cannot imagine my life anywhere else. As an undocumented immigrant, I fear for the safety of my family and myself. There are a lot of times of uncertainty and fear, especially in the current political climate. However, it has taught me how to be a strong and determined individual. With the opportunities we have have made for ourselves, I have been able to excel in my studies and my career. America has given me the chance to have an education and grow not only professionally, but also personally. There are times when I feel like I don’t belong here. However, this is my home, and when I think about all of the amazing and helpful people that I have come across with, I consider myself extremely blessed. I will never take these opportunities, and these people for granted.

If there is one thing that I will always remember about my parents, is how hardworking they were and always have been. No matter what struggles they faced as undocumented immigrants in this country, they have always come out stronger than ever. I remember living in a small house in Palacios, Texas. My parents worked at a Mexican restaurant, and I was always taken care of by a babysitter. As an only child for a long time, they took low paying jobs to make sure there was food on the table and the bills were paid.

Witnessing my parents work hard and still being able to succeed in life has taught me how to be a hard working individual with or without legal status.  You can either make excuses and let your struggles stop you from reaching your goals, or you can face those struggles, and let that be your motivation to overcome anything that is thrown your way. As an Undocumented Immigrant in the United States, I know I will continue to face a lot of challenges in my educational, professional, and personal life. I am aware that there will be many times were I will fail, succeed, and struggle. That is completely fine with me because all of these hardships will be a part of my success story one day. Therefore, I will continue to enjoy my journey as much as I can. However, one thing is certain: We are all here to stay.



Going to college will allow me to achieve my dreams. It will also make my parents dreams come true. The move here was for me to have a better opportunity – a life they couldn’t live and wanted me to have.  After getting my Bachelor’s degree, I want to become a pathologist assistant and either come back to Dallas or look for another area with high crime that needs P.A.s in their hospitals. I would also like to have a house of my own and be able to give my parents one too, since we’ve lived in the same apartment ever since we’ve moved here. I would like to be able to help out with my brothers’ expenses, since my parents are older and won’t be able to support them fully by the time they go into college. They’ll be almost 60 and I would like them to rest.

I wish I’d known earlier on to prepare myself for the hardships that would come with this status. That coming to live in the U.S. wasn’t actually going to mean a better opportunity, there are still many blocks in life because of your status. This just adds on to whatever happens in your life as well; I am content with my life even though we may struggle financially, and I’ve had many family problems and psychological problems. Being here is still my life, no one has it easy and I wish more of our stories were to be shared, because people really don’t realize the advantages they have just by being citizens. I learned the, for lack of a better word, ignorance of my fellow classmates regarding the matter of immigration and DACA whenever we would explain why we were having a hard time and they didn’t understand the concepts. I believe more light has to shed on this and in the future I wish to help with it.

America has been my home for 14 years. When my family came over, I was 4 and had just finished pre-school, so it wasn’t as hard as other people who came over much older. I still experienced severe culture shock though. Communication became very hard for me, I couldn’t understand the teachers, students, and even worse, my schoolwork. I didn’t fully adjust until I moved schools, and it wasn’t until either second or third grade when I became comfortable talking to others and understanding my schoolwork. Tests used to make me cry, because I didn’t understand what they said. I didn’t want to bring home bad grades, so I had a lot of breakdowns in class when I got frustrated.

I know it was a huge sacrifice for my mom to bring me over and to leave her entire life and family in Mexico, but she wanted me to have a better chance at life and to meet my dad. I lived the majority of my life without my father, because he was always working in the U.S. and when we came over, nothing changed. There were many family problems I wasn’t aware of because my parents just wanted me to try my best at school.

As I got older, I came to understand the problems we had, and I knew my dad worked long hours to keep us from worrying about finances. I was an expensive child; I suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety, my parents tried to do everything they could to let me go to therapy. But, when they prescribed me medication, it just wasn’t possible to get them without insurance, because they were extremely expensive. I never got them, and I stopped going to therapy. With my brothers in the picture, my mom would take on some jobs here and there, because we barely had enough for all the bills, since neither parent had an actual career. I took on the role of second mom really early on but I had to help my parents out in some way. This limited my childhood and teenage years even more. I didn’t really go out with friends and only stayed late at school due to band, clubs, and tutoring. I have yet to have a job, because I am needed at home with my brothers, while my parents work. They do everything possible to make ends meet but are now also aware they can’t be too absent; they’re scared my brothers will go through the same hardships I did.



TheDream.US has provided over 6,500 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.

  • 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