Dreamer Story 4

Hello, I am one of the many undocumented students whom you have heard of, and this is my story.

I never asked to be undocumented, to live in fear of being deported from the only home I know. I was born in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, México, in the warm, rainy season of December. The last time I was in my home town, I was only eight months old, and it was before my family immigrated to the USA. It was then when my story as an undocumented citizen began.

We arrived here in late August, and my Papá was fortunate to have found a job quickly, thanks to my Tío immigrating before us and putting in a good word for my Papá with his boss. With that, my dad was able to provide money for us to be able to eat a meal every night, but mind you, just because it was called a meal, does not mean that it really was one. It was usually just a Kids Cuisine or Lunchable that we would have to ration throughout the day. On a good day, Mamá and Papá would walk us to McDonald's and buy us a Kids Meal to split between the kids.  While I was growing up, starting with zero dollars meant living in other people's basements and not having much food. It really makes you appreciate it all later when you do get it.  I'm blessed to say that now when I am home, I get a full meal every meal. I am one of the fortunate ones.

Now, I have always known that I was an undocumented person. I think my parents always wanted my older sister and me to know so that it wouldn't surprise us later on down the road, but the gravity of what it meant to be undocumented did not hit me until I was 12 years old. It was then when President Barak Obama introduced the DACA immigration policy. On that day, my older sister cried tears of joy, and my mom couldn't stop hugging us. It was then when I learned that if it hadn't been for that policy, I would not have been able to work, drive, nor attend college as my friends would. Although I was relieved to hear that I now had that chance, it was hard not to feel hurt and rejected, for the place I called home never considered me as a resident in the first place. Can you imagine that pain? To go all your life thinking that this was your home, only to realize they saw you as a pest? It breaks you, but what you do after you break is what really matters.

Once I realized the gravity of the situation, I understood that I could never be a normal student. I had no other choice than to be exceptional. Granted, I always excelled in my classes because I enjoy learning, but on that day that DACA passed, it dawned on me that I had to prove that I belong here. I had to prove to this government and country that I should get to have a spot at the Freedom table. So, from sixth grade on, I put myself into overdrive. I joined several clubs and became the leader of at least half of them. I made sure to graduate with honors from middle school and high school. I never let my grades slide. I worked a part-time job, went to the gym, cleaned the house so my mom could finally take a break, and I studied and did homework from the time I got home till 1 - 3 in the morning, only to wake up at 5 to make breakfast for my siblings the next day. This was my schedule, and I had to get used to it because it was never going to get easier. I am blessed enough to have a supportive and loving family that reminded me to take care of myself and fed me when I forgot to, but of course, that didn't save me from everything. I still got stressed, sick, bullied, angry, and sad whenever I was alone. I had to learn to become stronger so that I could not only defend myself and my honor, but also that of my family. I would much rather be the one to take the blows than them, no matter what.

When it came time to pick a college, I was only down to two options since my parents didn't want me to go to an out-of-state institution for safety reasons. DACA is shaky, so it was better to be close to home, but I won't lie and say that the letters I got from Ivy league schools were not tempting. (Yes, a tiny flex, haha!) I am fortunate enough to have an older sister to help me through the application process and to help me find scholarships since we don't get any money from FAFSA. Since we are both undocumented, we support each other a lot and have grown much closer over the years. She really is my best friend now. Anyway, after working hard in high school, leading 4 clubs/organizations, taking several AP classes, and passing with a 3.998, I graduated high school and was admitted to Marquette University, a wonderful school that saw my potential and awarded me with the Goizueta Scholarship and then covered the rest of my tuition fees! My family was ecstatic that all my hard work and potential were recognized in such a manner.

Now that I am here for my second year, the blessings have just been rolling in, but not without stumbling a bit in the beginning. I had to go through a lot of toxicity from an unhealthy friendship that was full of spite and racism. My grades suffered a bit because of that relationship, but after setting myself free from their hatred, I have been able to soar again! I am now an RA (meaning my parents no longer have to pay a cent for my education), leading a retreat, surrounded by the most wonderful and supportive friends, leading another organization, and involved in a research lab on campus! I know that life can get crazy, and sometimes it can seem as though nothing will ever get better, but I have learned that with a strong spirit, faith and trust in God, and a great support system, you can achieve your wildest dreams. All you have to do is not give up. Yes, your past may have been plagued with unknown hardships and evils, but as Kim Namjoon once said they are these moments that "make up the brightest stars in the constellation" in our lives, so never be ashamed of the battle you are fighting, have fought, will fight - be proud of who you become afterward, grow, speak yourself, share your wisdom, and be thankful for the opportunity you have been given. This is not a time to take your life for granted. Live each day with gratitude and push forward for the life you want, because it is possible.

To read more DREAMers' stories click the links below: