For Immediate Release: June 25, 2020
Contact: Carli Kientzle at [email protected]
Mia of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and “Sara” of California State University San Bernardino 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.
Mia, a Scholar of of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley:
The U.S. is the only home I’ve ever known. I know where I come from and I am not ashamed. I love my roots, customs, and traditions, but I learned to love this one too. I stood up every day in school and learned the National Anthem. I mourn the loss of the soldiers that fight for our freedom and respect their bravery. I hear about so many places where people aren’t as lucky, and it reminds me of how lucky I am to be here. The Dream.US is a huge part of helping me continue these amazing traditions by helping me get an education and become an integrated member of society.
I want to work for a huge corporation after I graduate and obtain a stable job to provide for myself and my family. I want to be able to help my parents with their bills and other payments and then buy my own place. Eventually, I hope to become my own boss by establishing my own business. College by way of The Dream.US scholarship will help me make connections and create my own future.
Like many, my parents wanted a better life for their family. My parents left all our friends and family behind looking for something better, knowing no one in this new country. Once here, they looked for jobs but no one would hire them because they lacked papers and education. Someone offered my parents a job in the fields, and, though it was hard work with extremely harsh conditions, my parents knew it was the only way to provide for our family in the valley. They have worked there since.
As field workers, there are days when there is enough money, but, when the season is over, things get a little tough. We struggle trying to make ends meet. I have DACA, but if the program ends, I could lose my ability to go to school and achieve my dreams.
I was raised here since I can remember. I live in a household of seven with my mom, step-dad, grandmother, two sisters and one brother. Learning a new language wasn’t really that difficult, because I was brought here at a very young age. I was always good at school and loved playing sports. Growing up, my school always took us to go see the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. I came to know the school inside and out. It was really close to home and I loved the campus. In high school, I started taking dual-enrollment classes and realized that most of my classes would transfer to this college.
I think this is my family’s country too. I didn’t ask to be brought here, but it happened, and I’m thankful because this country is amazing. DACA is an amazing program, because it allows everyone to win. This program allows undocumented people to do things right. Ending the program will not stop immigration, it will only cause it to be illegal. On the contrary, with DACA, the government can keep record of who we are but if it ends this will no longer be.
“Sara,” a scholar of California State University San Bernardino:
Both of my parents are fighters. They immigrated to the United States with nothing but the hope that their children would have the opportunity to receive a better education and a better life. My parents didn’t speak English and had very little education, but that didn’t stop them from searching for jobs once they arrived in the United States. My siblings and I are currently authorized to work in the United States under DACA, but my parents remain undocumented. Seventeen years later, they continue to make sacrifices by working long hours and receiving low wages in order to help me and my siblings accomplish our dreams.
In their eyes, they have now succeeded beyond their expectations. My twenty-eight-year-old brother obtained his Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and is currently on his way to becoming Assistant Manager at a major bank. He was the first in our family to attend college. My twenty-three-year-old sister attends California State University San Bernardino and will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in Nursing – the first in our family to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. I am also enrolled at California State University San Bernardino, pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Sciences. These degrees, and these jobs, would not be possible without DACA. Our opportunity for higher education makes my parents so proud, knowing that they arrived to the United States with nothing but the clothes on their backs and aspirations in their minds.
I am currently a junior at California State University San Bernardino and working towards a degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences. I wish to work in a hospital setting as a clinical dietitian before applying to graduate school to obtain my Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. In the future I would also like to obtain certification to specialize with eating disorder patients. Along the road, I would love to incorporate my love of art with aspects of my career by writing and photographing my own recipes to publish in a plant-based cookbook. Additionally, I plan to give free demonstrations on how to
cook healthy food for people with the most common medical conditions. I especially want to work on recipes that integrate parts of my Mexican heritage and show how delicious food can also be nutritious.
I don’t remember much about my early years, but one thing I know for sure was that there was a lot of tension and sadness in our house. My mother felt helpless in an English speaking country and constantly regretted her decision to leave Mexico. My mother and father’s relationship was falling apart during this time. It wasn’t until nearly five months after arriving that my siblings were enrolled in school and I in kindergarten. We didn’t stay in Los Angeles for very long, the loud city was uncomfortable and isolating for my family. Our uncle urged us to move to San Bernardino and showed us the hospitality and
kindness that we had previously been neglected. My first day of elementary school was unforgettable and deeply upsetting. I was enrolled in a bilingual school, where I was bullied by other students and the teacher. I remember that she would purposely make me read aloud and would make several racist remarks towards my mother after school. We never filed a complaint in fear that the police would get involved and deport us. School began to get easier once I learned English and adapted to the American culture. By age seven, I was fluent in English and eventually had trouble picking up my Spanish again.
Despite our rough start, I have always seen America as my home. My whole life and all of my memories have been here and I don’t know anything else.
I sometimes stop to think about how my life would have turned out if my parents’ dreams would have failed. Without an education, I think I would be doing what many women in our culture are taught to do. I imagine myself taking care of a household and married, or working part-time in a small tienda or restaurant owned by family and neighbors. While there is nothing wrong with this lifestyle, I have always wanted more for myself. I suppose I’ve inherited my parents’ work ethic in that sense. I have always been determined to pursue higher education, even if it meant taking twice as long so that I could work simultaneously to pay for my degree. Luckily, my mom found TheDream.US over a popular Spanish newscast and immediately told me to apply. I never imagined that I would be granted the scholarship, but I am so glad that I was given this opportunity. My hope for other undocumented students is for us to always strive for our goals and work hard. Even though our journeys have not been easy, we are just as deserving as anyone else and we must strive to prove that.
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