“My education was so that I could contribute to society.
My last year at Southern Methodist University I began working on an engaged learning fellowship. Because of that I was selected to be the commencement speaker for my graduation and represent almost 600 other students who would be graduating that day. In my speech, I thanked the faculty and staff at my university. I’ve had teachers who I’ve looked up to my whole life, who provided amazing educational opportunities regardless of the papers that I had or didn’t have.
I want to be able to work and I want to work in public service. In order to do that I would need to have DACA. I would need to have work authorization in this country. I feel like that’s what my education was for. My education wasn’t for me. My education was so that I could contribute to society. My education was so that I could give back to the community that has given me so much, to the country that has given me so much.
This year I hope that our Congress and our President work to find a permanent solution to provide us [DACA recipients] a pathway to citizenship, to give us an opportunity to use our education, to use everything what we’ve learned in order to give back, in order to contribute, in order to provide for ourselves and our families and our communities.
My name is Jose Manuel Santoyo. I was born in Michoacan, Mexico and came to the US when I was eight years old. “
“My dad was a fighter pilot in the Peruvian Air Force, so I grew up with a lot of military influence. When I was in high school I joined NJROTC which was the junior ROTC and I was there for three-and-a-half years.
It gave me that taste of maybe what my dad might have lived when he was in the military. I lost him was I was only six years old, so I never really got to know that part of him. I always thought in the back of my head when I graduate, I want to join the military. When I was in my junior year I realized that I couldn’t enroll in the military because I was undocumented. I was sitting with a recruiter at my school, an Air Force recruiter, and he asked me about it. He’s like, ‘What’s your social?’ So when I told him,’Well I don’t have one.’ He’s like, ‘What about your passport?’ I’m like,’Well I have a Peruvian passport.’ And he’s like,’No you have to either be a U.S. resident or a U.S. citizen to be able to join.’ That’s the first time I ever experienced that big wall of being undocumented, like a big stop sign saying no, you can’t pursue this passion of yours.
I didn’t live a normal life until I got DACA. Thanks to DACA I was able to pursue my career after graduating Cum Laude from Saint Leo University, in Marketing. With DACA I was able to build my professional network, help people, influence people, and do all these things for myself and my family and my community. If that’s going to be taken away, everything that I’ve accomplished, that I’ve worked on, that I’ve helped people with will just fall apart. It will shake the foundation of who I am today as a person, as a professional, even as a friend, as a daughter, everything.
My name is Andrea. I was born in Lima, Peru. I was brought here by my mom when I was 11 years old.”
“I didn’t let anything keep me from advancing academically.
Unfortunately, when high school ended, I couldn’t attend the university of my dreams. I was getting all these acceptance letters, but I couldn’t go to any of these schools, because I didn’t have a social security number, and therefore I wasn’t eligible for financial aid. I couldn’t pursue the dreams that I had been hoping to. But I did not let my undocumented status hold me back from continuing to advance academically.
I enrolled at Gateway Community College, where I worked very hard as Student Government Association President and graduated with a 3.8 GPA to then be able to attend Quinnipiac University. I graduated magna cum laude and earned by Bachelor’s degree in the May of 2016.
It’s surreal to wake up everyday and be reminded that even though I have been living in America for the past 18 years, in a few months, all my honors and education might end up not mattering any more because I won’t be able to contribute to the country which I have called home for so long.
My name is Maria. I was born in Ica, Peru, and moved to the United States when I was five years old.”
“I invest in the next generation of biomedical tech solutions.
When I was working at a convenience store, I always had big aspirations, even though I wasn’t sure how they would ever come to fruition. But the moment DACA was passed, it really put everything into perspective, and I really made a conscious effort to focus on my career. So I ended up pursuing a career as a software engineer.
I went to school at Cal State University, Northridge. I studied economics and biotechnology. After working as a software engineer in the Silicon Valley, I ended up moving to Brooklyn, New York. I now work in venture capital, running a small venture fund that invests in early-stage life science and frontier technology startups.
As a CEO of an investment fund, DACA being repealed does not only affect me. A DACA repeal could affect the startups with which I work, and my ability to invest in them, and their ability to continue to grow and employ hundreds of Americans across the country.
My name is Javier. I’m a DACA recipient and I’m from Mexico City. I came to the US when I was five years old.”