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Five Words in Spanish

In the summer of 2023, my mother and father asked me to sit down in the kitchen because they had something serious that they wanted to tell me. Now, I would have never guessed that the following five words in Spanish would forever change my life.``Marely, no calificaste para DACA.” comes out of my mother’s mouth. “Marely, you do not qualify for DACA ''. I stare at my mother when I suddenly hear myself crying then proceeding to begin chuckling. I was sitting on the old wooden brownish stool in the kitchen, I suddenly began to physically and emotionally see the world get smaller. My initial response and question to my mother was “How am I going to get into college now?” Out of all the responses/ questions I could have initially responded with, like for example, “How am I going to get my driver's license?” or “How am I going to obtain a work permit?” The only question I single-handedly cared about was how was I ever going to get accepted into a college.


I should back you up and tell you that in November of 2007, I arrived in the United States strapped to the hips of my young Mexican mother. We arrived in this country in anticipation of obtaining and assimilating a better life, or for this, the “American Dream”. You may have heard those common phrases come out of many immigrants in the United States, but my situation and family are different and we no longer associate ourselves with those phrases. I grew up not knowing that I was an undocumented immigrant and those were undoubtedly the best years of my life. To be exact, I never knew that I was undocumented until I was 14 years old and I dreamt of being a lawyer. I distinctly remember a faculty member in my Junior High School informing me that it would be extremely difficult for me to become a lawyer based on my legal status. I remember looking at her with the most confused face in the room and asking her why she thought that. She hesitantly responded with “Well, it’s because you are undocumented.” I gave her another confused face and asked “What does that mean?” she replied, “You weren’t born in the United States.” After school, I immediately turned to tell my mom all about my (confusing, at the time) conversation I had with a faculty member. That single conversation changed the way I look at myself as well as my future along with last summer's conversation with my parents.

Looking back, I knew that the faculty members as well as my mother's conversation were not meant to hurt me or discourage me of my future, but instead, they were informing me to acknowledge the fact that I can do so much better in my life. Now, fast forward a few months since me and my mom’s conversation, this is who I identify as. I identify as a first-generation Latina, a Proud Mexican immigrant, a daughter of immigrants, a sister, etc. In the spring of 2025 I will be the first in my family to graduate high school and four years later, (hopefully) be the first in my family to graduate college!


I would love to end this if you or someone you may know who is Hispanic or even undocumented, I recently created an online project for Undocumented & Hispanics in high school who dream of pursuing a higher education. With this project, I plan to post weekly new information, statistics, news, scholarships, opportunities, websites, etc that will eventually and hopefully help them! The Instagram page is @ beyondbordersinitiative_



Sources Used: 


Marely Martinez, 11th Grade, Springdale, AR, Instagram- @martinezz.marelyy

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