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“Sonya” at the University of Central Florida

The United States is all I have ever known, the only home I’ve ever known. I was only two years old when my parents brought me to live in America, and I have lived here ever since. My childhood was typical – I went to school, watched Disney movies with friends, and traveled to Orlando for family vacations. In high school, I was a varsity swimmer and a member of the Honor society. Papers or no papers, I grew up American. When I was ten years old, a family friend was deported, which prompted my parents to explain to me the exact implications of our status, or lack thereof. But, even still, I didn’t truly understand what it meant to be ‘undocumented’ until the end of high school, when I started to think about and plan for my future. That’s when it hit me: applying to college, starting a career, and, one day, having a family of my own would all be very difficult to accomplish because of my status. And then, in 2014, I became DACA-mented. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, allowed me to get a work permit, which allowed me to get a job to pay off my expenses, and attain a driver’s license. I’d always dreamt of attending UCF, but I knew I couldn’t afford to go. Thanks to TheDream.US scholarship, my tuition was covered, and I can remove that once seemingly far-off goal from my list. This semester I began journalism classes. I was accepted into the prestigious program, and I can’t wait to learn how to report the news and study in my school’s professional news station. I hope to become a reporter, and eventually report on politics from a nonpartisan perspective. DACA is extremely beneficial to so many young people in this country. It facilitates access to higher education, which, in turn, enables us to move ahead and become active members in the workforce and in society. Our situation should not define us.For those who are wary of DACA, I would explain to them that you must be a functioning member of society to become DACAmented. I would take the time to educate them about what it is like to be undocumented in America, especially how hard it is to become documented. I try not to think about what happens if DACA is repealed, because it causes my anxiety to spike — I try to live in the moment instead. I am part of the’ DREAMers’ club at my college, and I am now the communications officer. The other DREAMers at my school are my main support system. Whenever I meet a younger
DREAMer, I tell them to go for their dreams without inhibition, and never be afraid to chase what they want to do.