I was ten years old carrying a broken heart and tears that cover my eyes when I emigrated to the United States of America from El Salvador with the innocence feeling of only wanting to be reunited with my mother and father. At the instance, I was not chasing the American Dream. All I wanted was to be able to have my parents’ love by my side. When I decided to come here I was strong-minded to achieve this no matter what. However, the journey that I took was difficult, sad, and lonely. I believe I have never cried as much as I did as when I was coming here. It’s not an easy path to cross Guatemala, Mexico, and the US the way our people does it. I was alone throughout the whole process and I was a little girl. In this voyage, I suffered a lot but it was also the beginning of my future and the life that was waiting for me. It fully transformed my life.
I came here illegally; I did not know or understood how this concept can affect one’s life at that time. As a 10-year-old girl, I was cheerful and full of joy that I was reunited with my family and it was all that mattered at that time. However, as I continue to get older and started to make my mind of my future, career, and College I wanted to attend by the end of senior year in High school it was when I understood the impact that immigration has on my life.
For the reason that I’m an immigrant and my whole family, it puts me at a place in society where I’m barely visible. Your accomplishments, grades, and extracurricular activities can do little or no effect on your future. Being an immigrant who only has DACA status, and the desire to exceed and be successful in a society where your immigration status really matters – has really been my greatest challenge in my life and in my education career. I had to understand and accept the fact of who I am and that I have worked three times more than the regular student because I’m an immigrant. This phase in my life has also made me a better person and made me a stronger member of my community and Latina immigrant.
Twelve years ago, I accomplished my aim to be around the precious people in my life. Yet, once I arrived in Amherst, I had more challenges to face: Adapting to culture, learning a new language and more. Now, I have overcome them. I’m grateful to be who I am. To be with them and to give me the opportunity they never had – that being access to education. They inspired me to continue my education and not give up. There have been so many doors that have closed because of who I am but also there’s been a few that have been open and support me and remind me that I am in a country where dreams do come true no matter where you’re from.
Now I have understood I still need to educate myself more, face more obstacles with fearlessness and bravery. I hope I will get help and then help others to reduce poverty, and improve immigrants’ rights and access to higher education. Life taught me dreams come true; Wishing to be with my family was a dream but now is a reality. Challenges are to overcome with passion because nothing is impossible to accomplish. This journey changed my life and made me who I am.
This journey brought me to be where I am currently, about to finish my bachelor degree – a dream about to be reality; Working overtime, being a full-time student, and paying out of pocket has made this goal hard to reach, but not impossible. I hope students in my position get inspired to continue education because it’s possible. Public Education has given me the opportunity to not give up on my educational goals. It has shown me that anyone can achieve their education regardless of race, ethnicity, or what language you speak.
As of now, I am very proud of everything I have accomplished. It has taken me longer than the common student, but at age 24 I am a junior at University of Massachusetts, UMASS Amherst. I’ am pursuing a marketing bachelor degree. I have no idea how I have made this far without any financial aid, and the support citizens get. Yet, I do know that perseverance and hard work can make a difference. It has been difficult, I had so many people told me I could not do it. Being able to prove yourself and other people in my community who are going through the same struggles that they can also do it has no price. Immigration at the end of the day has a huge an effect on us but it matters how we take it and deal with it. As a dreamer, I will never stop dreaming.
This first-person story was submitted by a college student in Massachusetts who also works at restaurants to make ends meet and go to school.