For Immediate Release: July 30, 2020
Contact: Carli Kientzle at [email protected]
Javier of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and “Zira” of Christian Brothers University 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 Javier, a graduate of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and “Zira,” a scholar of Christian Brothers University :
After I graduated high school, I was very excited about getting a college degree. I remember being at the registrar’s window with my mom, and they told me my balance … there was just no way we could afford that much money.
I looked at my mom, and with great pain I told her that I had to drop the classes. I told her I would be back, but first I had to work and save some money. Four years later I was there, at the same window, ready to fulfill my dreams of a college education.
DACA and TheDream.US scholarship changed my life. It completely changed my life and allows me to work and study. The prospect of losing DACA is one of my worst nightmares. This scholarship gave me education and a chance.
Now, I received my Associates degree and finished my Bachelor’s at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. I had a 3.48 GPA and worked more than 30, and sometimes more than 40 hours per week, at a regional bank while going to school and getting my degree. My major eas psychology, and I minored in Human Resources.
I want to focus on psychology for my career. The subject is personal to me, as my father has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I think that motivated me to choose this path. I’ve seen when my Dad needs help and I think about how other families might be also going through the same issues. I want to help them.
After I came to this country, at age 11, my father worked as a lawn-mower, but didn’t generate much income. But I didn’t have a bad childhood despite some financial difficulties. I had a healthy life and that’s what matters.
Dreamers are the future of America. Many of us are becoming or are already professionals and we help other people. I’d tell future DREAMers and potential Scholars to not be afraid. You can take everything away from someone, but the government can’t take away what we’ve learned. Be yourself, tell your story. You are worth it. No matter what.
During my sophomore year of high school, my older brother began the arduous process of college applications. He’d dreamed of studying aerospace engineering and was a member of the gifted program in school. But, he had a very difficult time receiving financial aid without a social security number and was ultimately unable to attend, despite his brilliant academic performance. That’s when I realized both the importance of higher education and that my family was undocumented.
I am currently studying Computer Science at Christian Brothers University. Both of my parents graduated college before migrating to the US, but I will be the first of my three siblings to attend university, all thanks to TheDream.US Scholarship. I heard about the scholarship through a social media post on the account Humans of New York. My goal at CBU is to earn a quality education and gain as much experience as I can. I also look forward to engaging with the community in and around campus, and doing all that I can to bring awareness to the issues that face undocumented students.
I came to the US from Zimbabwe when I was 4 years old. I remember my mother was stressed out about getting the money to obtain visas for us to join my father in Chicago, and I remember the long plane ride and our layover in Germany.
The move was fairly easy for me, because we had some family here. My older cousin taught me how to speak English the summer before kindergarten, and I quickly made friends. Throughout our childhood, my mother always encouraged us to do well in school, go to church, and engage in our community. I never really felt alienated by my peers, even though my family had different traditions and customs, food, and could even speak a different language. I am very grateful for that. America always felt like home. Unfortunately, I don’t have much of a recollection of my home country and still struggle to speak my home country’s language.
I would encourage people who are skeptical about the need for DACA to broaden their awareness about our current immigration system and invite them to think about all of the rights and privileges that they may take for granted. I used to be really apprehensive about sharing my story but realized that the easiest way to get someone to empathize with immigrants is by giving them the opportunity to get to know one.
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