I still remember the day I came to this country the drive was long and the night was dark and cold. When I was enrolled in elementary school I remember crying the first two weeks because I didn’t know any English and my teacher wasn’t very welcoming to kids like me. School was always hard because I could never relate to the other kids they never understood that I wasn’t like them, I couldn’t get a drivers license, work and possibly go to a University all because I was born in a different country.
Up until 2012 I was always scared of getting deported and being sent to a country I know little about, maybe that why I never got into trouble growing up. Enrolling into community college was difficult at first because they questioned me about my citizenship status making it very challenging but that was only the first bump, when applying to private schools and being called an international student I laughed at first because I see myself as an American. Immigration Policy is very important to me because its my life and it effects me in different ways, one for example would be its been 15 years since I have seen my father because he is in Mexico. We keep in constant contact and he believes that one day we will spend many memories here and there. Undocumented students are Americans because we grew up here, we know the laws, the constitution, and we call this country our home. Education has taught me very little about math equations or where do semi colons go but it has taught me to never give up on my dreams. Being an undocumented student has many different challenges while dealing with midterms and also reapplying for the DACCA all at once could feel like a mid life crisis. I know that one day I will change this immigrant system one law at a time.
As a Dreamer/Undocumented student I face many institutional barriers to higher education and face systemic oppression as I go through the education system. Only 10% of undocumented high school students move on to higher education. A tip for undocumented students is don’t be afraid to share your status with classmates, factually, and staff that want to help you succeed. Sharing your unique story with people enables hem to take action with and for undocumented students. There are privileges in being unprivileged we find our path to education, never relying on finical aid because we do not get any, we can not rely on our families because they are barely making ends met. I’m proud to be undocumented because with all the challenges I have faced I never gave up.
Being a Dreamer myself and having passion for my cause, I started to brainstorm resolution that would help future dreamers. I did not want other dreamers to worry about how they would pay for their books or if they should drop a class because they would probably need more than one resource. I was always thankful for the Dream Act paying for my classes, but it did not cover the cost of my books, and paying for books necessitates some creative problem solving. Textbook prices range from $50-300 per class, and I would research online and regularly attend book fairs trying to find the best deals. If those two options failed then my last resort would be the local library, hoping the textbook I needed would become available. When money was tight I would spend most of my time in the library with the books I could not afford. I remember thinking I was lucky to even have a book on hold in the library for my classes because if it was not for that, I could not even afford a book, let alone school. I would spend long hours in the library studying or even printing the pages out that I needed. Being a Dreamer means finding my own path for education and that’s exactly what I accomplished.
The idea that I had for my resolution was a California Dreamer Book Voucher
Whereby community colleges would implement a $600 book voucher per semester. The reasoning behind this idea was to eliminate the unnecessary stress caused by inadequate textbook funding and the long hours spent chained to the library. During my research I was struck by sadness upon learning that only 5-10% of California high school students go on to further their education. Reading all the statistics about the dreamers was very heartbreaking because those are future students who will never get the opportunity to become teachers, lawyers or doctors. These humans are stuck in a constant cycle of obstacles since birth and although some prevail, many more will stall out. By writing this resolution I am given hope that one day all dreamers would have the opportunity to better themselves through higher education. Today the resolution that I co-wrote, with three of my fellow council members is fully sponsored by Region IX by SSCCC Student Senate for California Community Colleges.