After weeks of anxiously waiting, I finally got my acceptance package from Brooklyn College to enter as a second degree student. I excitedly read every bullet point on how to register, declare your major, get a school ID, until I got to the dreaded page: You must come to our Admissions office to “verify your status” in order to be charged in-state tuition. Oh No! Not again!
Since I am a few months away from finishing my immigration process (after years of being in legal limbo), I was starting to forget what it is to not posses the nine magic digits that Americans call a social security number. I’ll always remember the good old college days: working 40 hours a week, taking five classes at a time and being constantly exhausted.
But when you are undocumented – besides the average college stress – there’s this awareness of your “status” hovering over your dreams and making you feel limited and, at the very worse, helpless. I know the feeling of wanting to join your peers in study abroad programs, scholarship search, or internship fairs and being unable to because you know from the start you don’t qualify. Being educated implies that you encounter new possibilities and opportunities sadly they’re not available to us because we lack nine magic digits.
Today, I want to assure that in this darkest of times, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The voices of undocumented students are starting to be heard, we are coming out of the shadows, more people are becoming aware as the dream hits close to home and we’re uniting to become a community fighting for change instead of isolated incidents of the system. You can always look forward to the DREAM Act which eventually will be legalized.
- Go to school: if you aren’t already or if you dropped out, educate yourself.
- Volunteer/Do Internships: you probably don’t have the ideal job, so a good way to work in your field is volunteering and/or doing unpaid internships. It will brighten up your days and look good on your resume.
- Support the DREAM ACT: find out how you can help raise awareness and support in your community.
- Do your own research: don’t go by what you hear. Go to financial aid and talk to an advisor. You may qualify for scholarships awarded based on performance and not need, make sure you are paying in-state tuition, write letters, ask questions, make phone calls, and make sure you talk to the right people. Worse case scenario: they say no, but you’ve heard that before. It won’t kill you.
- Keep your hopes up: I know it’s hard. I was depressed near collapse many times. But keep in mind you are all you have. So keep on fighting.
This post is dedicated to all the DREAMERS who have decided to fight, regardless of the difficulties. We, too, are America.