My mom’s fears of facing deportation stopped me from traveling to other states around America. I slowly learned to confront the facts that I was not like the rest of my classmates. I could not travel to France with my French class, attend sport competitions outside of the state of California, or even debate competitions and conventions for organizations I was highly involved in. One specific example was when my french class was going on a trip to France to learn about the culture at a personal level. I really wanted to participate on this trip because I had worked so hard over the past few years to learn the french language and culture. I received a certificate for being one of the few students with a high grade in my teacher’s class. The multiple hours I spent studying for this class led me to become fully immersed in the French culture, so when the opportunity to actually see and live the experience came up I became really excited. I let my imagination run wild and thought of the multiple experience I was going to have on the trip engaging with people from France.
It wasn’t until I talked to my mom about this, that my ideas completely shattered. I got into an argument with her, not because I was mad at her, but because I was angry of the fact that I had worked so hard to accomplish something and I couldn’t do the same things my fellow classmates were doing. I struggled in class listing to my classmates and teacher talk about the monuments and places they were going to visit in France. It frustrated me because I knew I didn’t have the same opportunities they did. But I kept my head held high. I was beginning to understand these obstacles however, the hardest hindrance that I have faced thus far was presented to me during my senior year. I was one of ten students who were nominated for a full scholarship to schools like UCLA and UC Berkeley by my counselors. I was so excited about this nomination that I told everyone in my family about the news.
I walked into the convention for the scholarship interview exhilarated by the atmosphere and ready to start and show them I was highly qualified. I remember looking around the room full of adrenaline as I was handed a form to fill out. This form had a question regarding to my citizenship status in this country. When I submitted my paper one of the coordinators pulled me aside from everyone and explained that unfortunately I was not eligible for the scholarship. He stated that because I was undocumented, I could not be given this scholarship. Right at that moment my heart dropped and I was at the verge of crying. I looked around the room fighting to hold back my tears as I saw everyone smiling because they did not have this obstacle in front of them. I saw the representative’s lips moving but I could not make out what was coming out of his mouth.
The event was going to last an hour and thirty minutes and I was ask if I wanted to leave or stay even though I was not going to gain anything from it. I maintained my emotions from showing and told myself that I was going to stay to show this organization what they were about to lose. I knew I had the ability to get that scholarship not only because I had an above 4.0 average GPA, but also because I had contributed to my high school and community in multiple ways. At the end of the event the coordinator pulled me aside again and told me that I did an outstanding job. He stated that he knew I was going to have a great future ahead of me because I had the passion to not give up. At the time, my hopes were shattered.
However, after this incident I am continuing to fight for my goals while overcoming the other hindrances ahead of me. Even after overcoming the struggles of not being able to travel, one of the biggest barriers was overcoming my mom’s fears of deportation. When I found out I got into UC Berkeley, I was super excited because I worked so hard to get into this university. That excitement soon turned into dismay when I told my mom about it. She told me that I could not attend the school because it was in a different location from where we lived and that I ran too many risk by being away from home. The idea of me moving to a place that was six hours away from home scared her and it didn’t help that some of my uncles expressed the same feelings.
I was completely overwhelmed with everything that was going on around me. I was frustrated because I had worked so hard to accomplish my goals of attending a prestigious university, and even then I was being refused the privilege of attending. I devoted my life to school. I woke up at six o’clock every morning to attend a seven o’clock morning class and my day finished at ten o’clock in the night after having attended track practices and three hours of community college classes. I had many arguments about this subject with my mom and I always ended up crying due to the fact that I was being denied the college experience that many of my friends were going to have. I concluded that all my hard work was irrelevant because I couldn’t do anything with it. I never thought that I would get through to her, but at some point I made her realize that she couldn’t keep my goals grounded because of fears.
Today I’m a freshman at UC Berkeley majoring in Molecular Toxicology and Pre-business with a minor in Theater. It has been a struggle to finance my way through school because I’m not able to apply for jobs due to the fact that I do not have social security number. Therefore, on my vacations I have to work many different service jobs that allow me to obtain money without the need of a social security number. My mom and I pay our taxes every year just like the rest of America, I am just not able to get financial aid. Even though I have to continue to work really hard to pay for my way in school, I stand with you today stronger than ever before. I still contribute to society and fight for rights that affect the only country that I know and love, America. My mom still fears for my safety and I know that she worries every day for my presence in this country. Which brings me to what I am about to say.
After spending my spring break with a group of talented people who are fighting for their American Dream and embarking on a journey from San Francisco to Washington, DC, I felt that it was time for me to join the undocumented student struggle. I want to allow people to see that I am also one of the 2.1 million undocumented students in this country fighting for justice. I am a human being who contributes to society as a regular citizen and that even though I am undocumented, I still stand proud to fight for the well being of my country. I am ready to step out of the shadows and risk everything I have worked for in order to fight for the other students just like me who are suffering deportation or contemplating suicide because they feel hopeless in life due to a broken immigration system. I want them to know that they are not alone. My name is Jose Sandoval, I am Undocumented and this is just the beginning of my story. Share this as your status if your support DREAMers like me.