By Gaby Pacheco December 31, 2017
Uzair Babar, 18, from Houston, born in Pakistan
I have always thought of myself as an American — the U.S. is the only place I have ever called home. From my first day of pre-school to my college orientation this fall, I’ve been raised and educated right here in Houston. I’ve never even been outside of Texas, and the thought of leaving seems absurd. I love being able to live the American dream, and I know it is all thanks to the sacrifice and hardship my parents have faced as undocumented immigrants. Both have had to work odd jobs to make ends meet and have dedicated all of their time, energy, and money towards providing for their four children so that we can be successful in life. In July 1999, just five months after I was born, my mother, father, and I immigrated from Karachi, Pakistan to Houston, Texas. 18 years later I am about to start college as a proud first-generation college student, a DREAMer, and a Scholar. My three younger siblings are all American citizens, but they understand the struggles of undocumented immigrants and support me and my parents in every way they can. I feel like I’m an American citizen just like them since Houston is all I have ever known. But I’m not. We have always hidden my status and my parents’ undocumented status from our neighbors, friends, and colleagues. My undocumented status really sank in as I got older, when I couldn’t get regular documents like a Social Security Number, a driver’s license, or a passport. As soon as I turned 16, I applied for DACA which would give me the opportunity to go to college and get a job. This may seem so simple for the average person, but when I received DREAMer status three years ago, everything changed. Now I am able to continue my education, pursue my dream to become a nurse, support my family, and give back to my community. Today, DREAMers can contribute more than ever before to the classroom and to the workforce. And scholarships like TheDream.US help us access higher education, which helps form successful, engaged citizens and provides a sturdy foundation for the economy and our government. I want to go into nursing because I have seen my parents struggle to afford medical costs. My siblings are all citizens and therefore had better access to health benefits, but, when I was sick, my parents had to pay an arm and a leg in order for me to see a doctor. All throughout high school, I volunteered with the Red Cross. It made me passionate about working with the Houston community and caring for others. Although I have just started down my new path at college, I already plan to use my education and talents to help all people, especially people like my parents who don’t always have the resources to afford the help they need.