Since the first day we arrived, the United States has been my home. There’s no question about it. This is where I live, where I work, where I go to school, where my family is, and where all my dreams and goals stand. While México is where I was born, my story is here and will continue to be here.
When I was eight years old, I received a college scholarship from my elementary school. For every ‘A’ I received on my report card until graduation, I received $50 for college. In order to receive the money, I had to open a bank account. This is when I found out that I was undocumented – without a Social Security number, I couldn’t open a bank account. No bank account, no scholarship money. I was sad and confused — I’d worked hard for the grant, and now the money was gone. I didn’t yet understand the deeper complexities of citizenship, but I was learning the consequences.
Since the first day we arrived, the United States has been my home. There’s no question about it. This is where I live, where I work, where I go to school, where my family is, and where all my dreams and goals stand.
When I was four, my parents brought me and my twin sister to the United States. Our parents left everything they knew – their families, jobs, and homes – and risked their lives to give us a shot at a better life in an unknown country with an unknown language. In the beginning, I was scared and confused, everything felt different. The separation from our extended family in Mexico and the language barrier were the hardest hurdles to overcome.
Surrounded by blonde hair and blue eyes, my darker features served as a megaphone for my accent. My sister and I were living in a different world than we’d ever known, and my parents kept warning us to keep a guard up. We were a low-income family, but, my parents made it seem like we were well adjusted, and we always had food on the table.
Quickly, we began to settle in and lead a happy life. I had great friends and influential teachers. My dad works in construction, and my mom runs the house and cares for our little brother, a U.S. citizen.
Our lives shifted again in high school, when everyone started to think about college. I did apply to colleges, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend since I was undocumented. I knew my legal status made me different since I couldn’t drive, or work, or travel like the rest of my peers were doing.
I received DACA in 2012 and it changed my life. I was able to come out of the shadows and be part of society. I’m able to work, go to school, drive, travel, and just contribute within my community. I arrived at Metropolitan State University of (MSU) Denver in part because my twin was already attending there, and she raved about how much they help undocumented students. In addition to those resources, they have a great nursing program and the campus is only 30 minutes from our home.
No matter what happens, I plan on continuing to volunteer and give back. At the university, I plan to join a club that advocates for undocumented students. I hope to help new scholars adjust to their first year at MSU Denver. After graduation, I plan to work in public health or as a school nurse and advocate for preventative health care within the Hispanic community. I want to be a role model for Hispanic girls and show them that this undocumented girl, who at times wanted to surrender, overcame the obstacles.
It’s extremely important that I remain in the United States to accomplish these goals. I need to prove to myself and to the doubters that the undocumented population makes great impacts in daily life. Education is my key to accomplishing these goals. If DACA is revoked I would be devastated, but it would not stop me from driving, going to school, and finding a new job.
Higher education is critical for all DREAMers, because we are an eager, education-hungry, innovative population. We need to expand our mind and we can be great assets to the world.
Sheila Galindo Vazquez is a student at Metropolitan State University. She is featured as “DREAMer of the Day” by TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for undocumented immigrant youth.
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