Undocumented and Unafraid

My Name is Ashley and I am Undocumented

The funny thing about my story is that my grandmother and mother were both green-card holders. Yet, here I am in a state of limbo status because the lawyer messed up. In the time it took for my mother to futilely navigate the immigration system, I had already overstayed my tourist visa and forgotten my native tongue. I thought of myself only as an American and was thoroughly disappointed and in a state of shock when I found that I couldn’t get a driver’s license. As I grew older, the barriers grew more formidable. I moved into a studio-size apartment with my family, checked vending machines for forgotten change, and somehow managed to finish my college education.

I graduated from a prestigious university without any form of institutional financial aid. I did, however, qualify for in-state tuition, without which I would not be the person I am today. To save money, I finished two majors in three years and received the highest honors given at my school. Throughout my college days, I was and still am an active member of the community. I led efforts to provide health service for the uninsured, tutored and mentored underserved youth, and volunteered at the free clinic. My status had provided me with unique insight into the struggles of the low income and underserved and with undying strength to help those in greater need.

Finally, I realized that my greatest desire in life was to pursue a career in medicine so that I could dedicate each day to directly helping those in need. I applied and was accepted into MD-PhD programs across the nation, placing me in the top ten percent of the student population. Yet, in a matter of days, my dreams would be destroyed. I am still out of status and unable to pursue dual degrees in medicine and research. Currently, I am still unsure whether or not I will be able to enroll in medical school. My elite pile of acceptances seems to dangle before me as dreams that are so close to reality and yet so far from my reach.

But I don’t deserve this. I had made no excuses on my application and told no lies. I was, instead, reviewed and accepted on my own academic and personal merits. These schools don’t even have a clue of what I’ve had to go through to get this far in my life. They offered me admission because I was well qualified for a spot in their entering class, because I had shown the potential to make great differences in the world of healthcare and scientific innovation. It is entirely their loss that they revoked the acceptances I had gained fair and square.

I hope this nation will not make the same mistake as these schools. We, the Dreamers, represent some of America’s most persevering and brightest youth. We have been tested by the most difficult challenges. Most of us have experienced days when we couldn’t afford to buy food for our family or painful incidents when we couldn’t afford medical help for our loved ones. Yet, with each challenge, we continue to overcome. We face these adversities head on and grow stronger in the process. And each day, we explore the limits of our potential as tested by the restrictions imposed on us because we hold faith that this country we love so dearly will one day recognize us and our efforts. We want nothing more than to contribute to the growth of this nation and, without a doubt, we have the potential to do so. All we need is the chance to grow.

Please pass the DREAM Act. All I ever wanted was to go to medical school, to spend the rest of my life giving back to the community, and to finally be an American.

~Ashley, DREAMer from California
We were so inspired by the DREAMers’ courage in coming out last week that we will continue to feature their stories through the end of March.  Please show your support by signing the petition to pass the DREAM Act.  Thank you.
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