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“Juana” of National Louis University and Martha of Dominican University are TheDream.US’ “DREAMers of the Week”

For Immediate Release: July 9, 2020

Contact: Carli Kientzle at [email protected]

 

“Juana” of National Louis University and Martha of Dominican 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.

“Juana”

I was just 7 years old when I came to the United States and I have lived here ever since. Coming to America felt very lonely to me, and I struggled with anxiety during my first few months here. There were many things I didn’t understand. It was really hard not having any other relatives here apart from my parents. Even though I had made friends, I found it hard to be accepted by others because of the language and cultural differences between Mexicans and Americans.

My parents and I came on a tourist visa, but we overstayed. My dad was offered a business venture by a friend to help run a travel agency. However, my dad was scammed and was left with the failing business which cost my parents a lot of money. Our family was fortunate enough to have charitable friends who helped feed us and look after us until we had enough money to get by on our own.

Having the TheDream.US scholarship enabled me to finish my degree in Business Management. It was very rewarding. I realised that I can achieve whatever I set my heart to with the love and support of my friends and family. Most important, I discovered a support community within my college and not only did they offer me advice, they also made me feel like I mattered.

During my time at college, I did really well – I graduated with a 4.0 GPA. In the future, I would love to be a successful entrepreneur and own my own restaurant group.

I currently work as a Technical Support Specialist. I feel like my college education is benefiting now because I have more opportunities to apply to mid-level management roles straight away rather than starting from an entry-level position and working my way up.

DACA really did change my life for the better. It allowed to do so many things – get a state ID, apply for better jobs with better pay and allow me to seek proper benefits to help my family out more. Most importantly, DACA made me feel like a human. That’s what mattered most of all. DREAMers just want the opportunity to thrive in the country they have grown up in and be ambassadors for the American Dream.

For anyone thinking of applying for TheDream.US scholarship, do it! Make the best of the scholarship and utilize all the resources given to you. I would also recommend getting involved with the support system within the scholarship community. Thanks to TheDream.US scholarship, I achieved my bachelors degree. I’m eternally grateful to TheDream.US!

Martha

When I learned that I had been awarded TheDream.US scholarship, my heart skipped a beat. It was the start of a new story. With the help of Dominican University and TheDream.US, I will be completing my bachelor’s degree. I plan to study marketing. Aside from my major, what I want from my college experience is love, knowledge, experience, growth, and power.

To those skeptical of DACA and TPS, I would show them face of the millions of people helped by these programs – not just undocumented people but the American economy and citizens. DACA/TPS recipients are doctors, nurses, teachers, business owners, taxpayers, homeowners, and so much more. We are classmates of your children. We are students. But most importantly, we are humans that want an education and a chance to succeed in the country we call home.

My parents were always open with me about my status. They taught me to work twice as hard to get somewhere in life. They insisted however that, with education, everything is possible. I never really felt uncomfortable about my undocumented status, since I received my DACA status at a young age. I could work and go to college. But I knew I had to walk on eggshells, because I didn’t have anything guaranteed. My life turned upside down when I found out that the Trump administration was threatening DACA. I felt hated just because of my undocumented status and my skin color. It was the first time I felt unwanted in this country.

I came to the United States when I was only 3 years old. My father was the first one to touch American soil. My mother stayed in Mexico with my two sisters, my baby brother, and me. My father would work in the United States and send money back to my mother in Mexico. My mother decided that she wanted our family to be together. I crossed the border with my mother, my 12-year-old sister, my 5-year-old sister, and my 1-year-old brother. My father was waiting for us in the United States. When I finally saw my dad, I ran to him.

My adjustment to the United States was a series of phases. At first, it was difficult because of the language barrier. My parents spoke Spanish at home, and I was learning English at school. When I was younger, I held on strongly to the idea that I was going to go back to Mexico. During elementary school, it was difficult to keep up with the academic requirements, since English was my second language. I vividly remember being terrified of reading out loud in class, so I would go to the library to check out books and read out loud at night to improve my verbal skills. I focused so much of my energy on improving my English that I started forgetting my native language.

My grades kept improving, and my interactions with teachers increased. During my junior year in high school, I took dual enrollment classes at my local community college. I decided to take matters into my own hands and looked at the best options for my future. Community college felt like heaven; there was so much knowledge and a relaxed energy.

My English teacher during my junior year of high school made me believe in myself. With her help, my ACT score gave me the opportunity to attend community college to finish my associate’s degree with a full ride. I didn’t have to pay for tuition, books, or fees. She was like my second mother that looked out for me when I wasn’t following my path towards success. She talked so highly of me that I finally believed what she was saying. Now, with her continued support and TheDream.US, I am a junior at Dominican University and will continue to chase my dreams. Lastly, thanks to my immigrant parents that risked their lives and left their home for a better future for their children.

 

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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

 

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TheDream.US National Scholarship Applications are still open. The deadline to apply is Feb 29, 2024.

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