My journey as a DREAMER

March 10, 2020

These last few days I shared a little more about me. My story.  I was born in Mexico and I have my Mexican citizenship.  I moved to the United States when I was 7 years old.  I didn’t come on a plane.  We took a different route, but I made it.  I have a work permit that allows me to be employed here.  I received that in 2013. I was 24 and 3 years out of college.  In 2012, President Obama put into effect an executive order for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).  I am a DREAMER (term used for youth who have been impacted by DACA and the Dream Act which would have provided a pathway towards citizenship).

What is DACA? What does that mean?

DACA is an immigration policy that provides opportunities to youth that had been in the country for years.  As mentioned in the World Relief site, this program allows those who are granted deferred status the opportunity to be eligible for work authorization in the US and protection from deportation.  The permit is good for 2 years and every 2 years it must be renewed.

To qualify, applicants had to be:

  • Born on or before June 16, 1981
  • Arrived in the US before they were 16
  • Lived in the US since June 15, 2007

The program currently does not allow any new applicants.  Only renewal applications are being accepted at this time.

Growing up

I grew up in Pilsen, which was great.  English was my second language.  When I first started school in the US, I was in 2nd but was then pushed to 3rd– I ended up skipping a grade.  The teachers were very helpful.  I was in a bilingual class.  I didn’t have very much, and my parents worked a lot and odd hours to be able to provide for us.  But what I can remember is that they were always there.  Helping with our homework and making sure that we were good students.  My mom may not have spoken English back then, but she tried her best and helped me as much as she could.

Through my parents encouragement and instilling the same values they had on us, I was able to make school a priority.  I attended a private high school with a scholarship (Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund).  My dream was to go to Whitney Young, I got in, but my parents made the choice for me and I attended St. Ignatius College Prep.  Through this day, I am extremely grateful for that choice.  The education I received from the school is unmatched.  My experience there helped to shape who I am now.  It also exposed me to a world that was different and so far away from where we grew up.

I was a hard worker but was also lucky.  I earned a full scholarship to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  I first caddied at a country club every summer from my freshman year through junior year when I applied and received the Chick Evans Scholarship.  I continued to caddy up until I graduated from college.  One of those summers, a couple from one of the clubs I caddied at offered to pay for my trip to Paris as a graduation present.  They knew my major was French and my dream was to go. Yet I had to turn it down and didn’t mention it again.  I can’t remember the excuse I used then.  I also couldn’t study abroad, which at times makes me sad.  Another old dream from back then was to work for NATO as a translator, something that was very much unreachable.  But I didn’t let those things stop me and I graduated with my French degree.

Things I missed due to my status

Both my grandmas passed away within the past couple of years and we weren’t able to see them.  The last time I saw them was some time before I was 7.   I’ve seen a few cousins and one of my aunts and uncles because they have visited but I didn’t grow up with a lot of family.  So, I value the people in my life and they are my extended family.  I can’t apply to some jobs since I am not a citizen.  I made up so many excuses for trips I couldn’t attend.  With everything I have learned and the people that are a part of my life, I have worked around some of those.  I get to travel within the US and there is so much to see. So much to still learn and visit.

Life is what you make of it and the opportunities that appear

How my life changed after I received my permit

As soon as I got my work permit in the mail, I updated my resume.  Prior to that I had nannied full time for years.  Even then though, I was filing taxes.  So, when people say we don’t pay taxes, nothing could be further from the truth. 

The first 2 jobs I got with my permit were working at a Pret and Lakeshore Sport and Fitness.  I was doing both because I wanted to save.  I did want to get an office job but with no prior office experience that was hard.  I landed a job as an office assistant after a few months and started learning.  I still wanted a little more, I wanted a challenge, so I kept applying.  I started at a start-up in the call center.  I was an originations specialist and it was fun.  This is the company I have been with since 2014 and have moved through many roles.  All I needed was my foot in the door and have made my way to the team I am on now.

I am a Certified Personal Trainer. I teach group classes. I babysit. I work some special events as an ambassador for brands. I write.

I have come a long way from when I graduated college.  I used to hide a good amount of me but I have also learned to be proud.  What I have and where I am has been earned. Not without obstacles but that’s what helps to get stronger and learn how to do something better.  I have failed many times but every day is a new day. A new adventure.

So my advice for you, is get to know people.  Don’t judge someone based on status, but on who they are as a person.  And really the most important thing is to go out there and VOTE! Our voice is silent when it comes to elections but we can inspire family, friends, neighbors to go and vote for the candidate they align with.  We are all different and don’t all have to agree but no matter what, exercise the right you have.

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