For Immediate Release: July 2, 2020
Contact: Carli Kientzle at [email protected]
Kimberlly of Eastern Connecticut State University and “David” of California State University: Long Beach 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.
I want to prove that dreaming takes you far. I want my siblings to come to me when they need help with college applications and choosing a major. I want to achieve the American dream, but honestly, I am living it. I did my research on several scholarships my senior year of high school and came across TheDream.US. However, I was not ready to apply. If I became a Scholar, I knew I would have to leave my family. My father had just been reunited with us, and my family depended on me. After two years of community college, I decided to apply for the scholarship. The importance of education must be constantly emphasized to fellow DREAMers. All I can do for now is to advise my peers to apply themselves to further their education, because no one else is going to do it for them. El que persevera, alcanza (One with perseverance succeeds).
I am a first-generation college student. My parents came to the United States twenty years ago, and they are both undocumented. While I was born in Honduras, I was brought over to the United States when I was eighteen months old. North Carolina is the only home I know.
My mother has her own business cleaning houses, and her highest level of education was the equivalent of eighth grade. My father runs his own mechanic shop, and his highest level of education was second grade. I’m proud to say they are also bilingual. They both learned to speak, read, and write English through their jobs. My mom would also help me with homework when I was younger, so she also learned the language through me. I have two siblings: a ten-year-old sister and a six-year-old brother.
According to my mom, it took me, my mom, my dad, and my grandmother three months to cross the border. We took buses and rode in a small boat with fifteen other Guatemalans and Hondurans (eleven men, four women, and me – an infant). Our coyote made sure he took care of us, especially my mother and I. While we were at sea, the motor stopped working on the boat, and the waves were crashing down on us. The water began pouring inside the boat, and it broke in half. Only three people on the boat knew how to swim, and everyone thought that we were going to drown. Luckily, fishermen nearby helped us get to land safely. Then, we crossed all through Mexico, and we finally got us to the border.
I will never forget when my father returned to Honduras to see his dying mother. He originally thought about moving us all back there, but, once he arrived and saw the gang violence and corruption, he knew it was not an option. So, he decided to cross the border again. I remember my mother just waiting for the phone call that would let us know that he was okay and that he had made it safe. Instead, we got a call from a detention center in Texas. It was my father letting us know that he was detained and that he was in removal proceedings. Months went by and he was still detained, due to a mix up with his documentation forms. Once he was deported back to Honduras, he tried again, and we waited again. A few months later, I was at school and my neighbor stopped me in the hall to show me a video. It was my father greeting my mother outside our house. I burst into tears. I ran home from school that day, feeling anxious and excited to be reunited with my father. What my mother and I thought to be only about three months without my father really turned out to be two years. So for about two years, it was my pregnant mother, my sister, my nana, and I. My father missed my brother’s birth, my quince, and valuable time with my little sister. His sacrifice affected our family dearly, but it is one that will never be overlooked. This is not my own immigration story, but it is a sacrifice that became a piece of my story.
I plan to major in Criminal Justice and minor in Forensic Science at California State University, Long Beach. Someday I may also get certified to become an EMT. If I lose my status, I will be devastated. I would be separated from my family and from my education- which I’ve worked extremely hard to earn- would just be thrown away.
It is extremely important for me to get my degree, not only because it’ll prove that people like me aren’t bad news, but also because it’ll prove that we came here to better ourselves. However, if I do end up getting deported at some point, having that degree will help me establish a career. This is essential, especially where I’m from, because in order to eat in my country, you need to work; if you don’t know how to do anything, you don’t get very far in life.
I want to encourage people who don’t support DACA to get to know us. We matter, too. We may have the same wants, the same needs, we may even share some of the same dreams. They would learn that we are working to help the US, to better ourselves and to better our families. We are working to become better people overall. We happen to come from different places, but we may be working to reach the same destination.
Like me, my mother is undocumented. She met my step-dad, who has a green card, a few years after she arrived. They then brought me to the US and, 8 years later, had my little sisters. My mother had only finished elementary school, and my step-dad dropped out in 9th grade. My siblings will be in fifth grade this fall, and I will be a first-generation college student.
I always thought that I might be undocumented. However, when my mom told me reality set in. I had asked her when I would be visiting my grandparents. She then explained that I would never be able to go back because I was undocumented. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it really hit me when my grandmother died. I wanted to go visit her – to see her one more time and to say goodbye – but I knew there was no way it was going to happen. Then, when my grandfather died, I took it even harder because at the time, I was waiting for a U-visa. It made me angry. I wanted to use the visa to go visit him. I figured if I couldn’t make it to her, I’d make it to him…but I didn’t. I was really disappointed, but in a way, it pushed me to work harder. I thought if I could grow up to become someone important, then maybe I’d magically find a way to go back to my old home and still be able to come back to my new home. To this day, that is not an option.
I ended up in attending numerous schools in a short period of time, until I settled for one. It was at this elementary school where I made my first friend. A boy with light skin and Harry Potter glasses. He stood by me all through kindergarten, and it was thanks to him that I liked going to school a little more. I didn’t, however, learn anything in that school. When I transferred to Felton Elementary School, my life changed. I met more people who looked like me and talked like me. It was a lot easier to make friends because there was no longer a language barrier. Soon, I started learning English. In third grade I reclassified and started getting straight A’s. My mom and the rest of my family were all really proud. I’ve been earning excellent grades ever since.
After breaking the language barrier, education became very important to me and it still is today. I am now a very outgoing, social, and confident person. I’m actually glad I struggled, because in the end, it served as encouragement. It is thanks to my education and my struggle that I enjoy helping others and giving back to those who helped me.
I began to view America as home when my little twin sisters were born. I suddenly had a more important reason to stay here. Watching them grow up has pushed me to be a better person because they look up to me. Now, I work harder and always try to do the right thing. It is important for me to stay here in the US, not only to help them go farther than me, but because I can help my family more from here than from anywhere else. My life is here, even if my family is in two distinct countries.
TheDream.US has provided over 5,000 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