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Friday, June 2, 2023

Guest Commentary

Guest Column: Reflection from the eyes of an undocumented American

School dances, sports games, prom, and graduation. They take us all back through our school years.
I still remember how excited I was when we got our class rankings. I was number 10 out of the almost 400 students in my small-town high school.

I couldn’t wait to tell everyone, especially my high school counselor, who had been helping me choose a college. She was very excited to hear the news and decided it was time to begin looking for scholarships. “You have all they’re looking for!” she said excitedly , referring to the community service hours, 3.9 GPA, extracurricular activities, and AP courses I had under my belt. I was quite delighted by the opportunities scholarships offered- after all, college was my dream.

However, my excitement was interrupted by one haunting line on the application: social security number.

I was undocumented, and I had no social security number. It was then that I learned my road to college would not be a smooth one.

I was 10 years old when I arrived in the US. Crossing the border illegally marked my life. It was a rough and scary journey, but all I wanted was to hug my parents again. Once I arrived and enrolled in school things began to look up. I made new friends, picked up the language and soon I was another kid in America.

I pledge allegiance to the flag every morning, and I sang the star spangled banner with pride; I was so thankful to be in this country and considered myself an American. That is why I was shocked to learn that to colleges and scholarship sponsors I was not, because I lacked a number.

I am not alone. There are an estimated 65,000 undocumented students in the country, many here at the University of Houston, our university. They could be your classmate, lab partner, or eating next to you at the UC. We are cougars and we’re undocumented.

Come learn more and support students sharing their stories on March 24 at the UC circle from 12pm to 1pm. State representative Ana Hernandez will be in attendance.

Youth Empowerment Alliance member Katia Carmona is a psychology junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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