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Yulissa Chung Loo – Kingsborough Community College

– Full Name

Yulissa Chung Loo.

– Date of Birth

January 8, 1996.

– Where were you born?

Panama (my heritage is Chinese).

– How old were you when you came to the US? What were the circumstances?

When I first came to the U.S. I was seven years old. At that time, my parents had just sold their store in Panama in order for us to move to the U.S. My parents wanted a better life for us because back in Panama, we were always targeted by thieves and life was difficult.

– Where did you live when you came to the US? Where do you live now?

When we first came to the U.S. we lived in Houston, Texas. My older sister was attending college there at that time so we really wanted to reunite with her. My parents [later] decided to settle down in New York, which is where we live now.

– Did your parents go to college? How far did they get in their education?

My parents never went to college. For my dad, he only went to school until 7th grade. My mom went to school until 9th grade.

– Was the language barrier an issue for you?

When I first arrived in Brooklyn, language was a huge issue for me. In Panama, I’ve been attending school until second grade learning Spanish. Therefore, when I arrived in New York, I was in English as the Second Language program. There were Chinese teachers to help me and I attended after school programs. I was able to overcome the language barrier in three to four years.

– How was your high school experience?

My high school experience was the most enjoyable period. Since elementary school and onward to middle school, I’ve been adjusting to this new culture, new language, and new environment. By my high school year, many people around me recognized that I am an American, just like them. In high school, I tried my best to achieve high academic standard and I took many classes that I enjoyed, such as painting class. I joined many clubs and I was also the president of Asian Culture Club. Then, when senior year came, I was really uncertain of my future. I was debating on whether I should attend college or not because I did not want my parents to pay for my education. They worked hard to support me and my brother already. That was when I met my English teacher’s wife, who works at the [high] school as a College Advisor. [She] recommended me to [check out] TheDream.US scholarship. I applied with all my hopes and prayers and I was really grateful when I found out I got accepted.

– Where do you go to school currently?

Currently, I am attending Kingsborough Community College.

– Major/career plans?

My major is business administration. My plan is to follow my sister’s footstep, to be an accountant.

– What has your college experience been like? Are you known as a Dreamer on campus?

I have just finished my second semester in college. College is just like high school to me, but with a lot more freedom. The teachers are also willing to help but I have to work hard for my grades. I am just a freshman on campus, so I am not known by many others yet. However, whenever I meet a new friend, I would tell them about TheDream.U.S. Scholarship program. My college advisor is also starting the Dreamer’s Club and I have volunteered to be the secretary.

– What are some challenges in college?

Some of the challenges in college [are] making friends and staying socially active. Right after class ends, I would just leave and go to work. There aren’t really any socializing between classmates. Another challenge would be the testing policy. Unlike what I was used to in high school, college have three tests only. The first test, the midterm, and the final. So there are some pressure that exists in college.

– What do your parents think of you going to college/choosing that career path?

My parents never achieved a high education. In fact, out of my whole family tree, my older sister is the first person to attend college and I am the second one. My parents, of course, are really proud. My dad has a stoic, stern personality. But, when he found out that his daughter is attending college, he was proud enough to brag to our neighbors. As for my career path, it was not what they had in mind. [But] they accepted my resolve and let me pick a career path with a bright future.

– What tip would you give to fellow Dreamers/students in your situation?

To my fellow Dreamers/students, I really wanted to say that you are not alone. Back when I was in high school, I was always worried because of my status. I was constantly being reminded that I am not an American. I was scared to join clubs that requires all my personal information and I pretty much lived a lonely life. But, when I found out about this scholarship, and the many people who are just like me, I was grateful.

So my tip to you is really to seek help and not be afraid – to talk to teachers, or any adult that you trust because you would never know [where] the opportunity is if you don’t ask.

– What are some of the best moments so far?

Some of the best moments that I’ve had are all thanks to TheDream.US – when I saw the letter telling me that I have received this scholarship. Receiving the scholarship and having the opportunity to attend college is the best moment in my life.