By Gaby Pacheco December 31, 2017
Whitney, from Washington DC, born in Germany
With TheDream.US, I have realized that no matter what, there is always a way. You just have to be patient, resourceful, and hardworking. The winding paths that my life has taken have made me stronger, more resilient, and more empathetic. I want to encourage those who are facing difficulties and remind them that it’s always darkest before the dawn. My parents met in Germany. My mom is from Cameroon and my father is from Togo. While in Germany, my mom studied theology and my father studied engineering. My mom was in Germany with a visa while my father had legal status. Once my mom gave birth to me, it gave her legal status in Germany and she eventually became a citizen. With her theology degree, she was able to open and pastor a church. I lived with my two younger sisters who were born in Germany and my two older sisters who migrated from Cameroon. My mom worked all sorts of jobs to financially support our family. I came to the United States in 2006. I was 9 years old, and remember the adjustment being strange and drastic. When we arrived in the US, we landed in Maryland and stayed with my oldest aunt and cousins. I felt like I was in a strange land. I had difficulty communicating with my cousins because I did not speak English well enough. At school, I sat in front of the computer for many hours each day doing Rosetta Stone. My mother sacrificed a lot to bring me here. She was well-known and established in Germany. I know now that she made these sacrifices to give us better lives. As black people in Germany, we faced severe discrimination and needed to get out. One night, when I was in high school, I received a curfew warning from the neighborhood police. My mom sat me down and told me sternly that I could never get in trouble with the law because I was undocumented and could be deported straight back to Germany. Though things were sometimes difficult in the United States–we moved nearly every year–I knew that I did not want to go back to Germany. I sometimes felt the weight of being a stranger in a foreign land, but I learned to rely upon my friends, family, pastors, and mentors. I am now studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. With that license, I want to help fellow undocumented students go to school and tap into their dreams.