Up until I was 2 ½ years old, I lived in Mexico with my family. In the year 2000, my parents decided to move to the United States so we could have our chance at the “American Dream,” a better education, and a better future. We all came into this country, knowing one language; Spanish.
When I started to go to school in the United States, I was always put into a bilingual class but that stopped as soon as I reached fifth grade. When I got to fifth grade I was put into a class with two teachers- a “Special Education Class”, but I didn’t think much of it. I knew that I didn’t know any English and had to figure that out on my own. I was doing this not only to learn a new language for myself, but also to be able to interact with others. I remember having cousins who spoke English very well, however, I would have less interaction with them since they lived far away, and when I did see them I always felt like they put me to the side, and they did.
At home, I had to do my own homework, except for Math. Math was pretty easy with my dad’s help, however, any other homework that included English was pretty hard. I would have trouble learning and understanding my work, so I had to find ways around it. I thought about getting a dictionary and put it to great use, however, when I had exams, I couldn’t use a dictionary anymore. I looked into getting a tutor at my school, and every day before lunch I would go to my tutoring sessions. I started to see improvement and was able to understand, read, and write English. Even though sometimes I still struggle with a few words in English, I am glad to say that I am now bilingual.
Years passed, I became a Senior in High School and my dad would always tell me that there may be barriers to getting into college and that I should keep that in mind. I took his words to heart but knew that I should be optimistic. As I applied to college, I found that financial aid would be a barrier, but with the help of my College Counselor, I was able to apply to The Dream.Us Scholarship. Around the beginning of April 2016, I got an email stating that I was accepted and received the scholarship in full. I cried and quickly emailed my college counselor as well as my chemistry teacher. We all cried tears of joy. It really was a huge relief knowing that I would be able to apply for college.
Another obstacle that I would face would be the fear of getting deported, especially if I wanted to get into college. I heard about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which helps protect children from deportation and be eligible for a work permit in the U.S. I told my parents about this and started to apply for it in September 2016 which was just a month before starting college. When I got to Lehman college I came in as a SEEK student. As a SEEK student, you are able to receive counseling, tutoring, and specialized academic courses, as well as supplemental need-based financial aid. However, I wasn’t eligible for financial aid because it was a federal grant.
As a college student going through the pre-med track, I volunteered in clubs and hospitals such as Lincoln Hospital and Montefiore Moses, helped out the community, and found research experiences. Although I continue to face barriers, I had the help of SEEK, the PTS3 program, as well as my friends and family. I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, will be taking a few gap years, and will soon enter Medical School to become a future Pediatrician.
My ultimate goal is to bring awareness within the minority community because healthcare should not be a privilege but a right. There are times that families don’t have enough money to help their own children, and that becomes a problem that can put them at risk. Therefore, my personal mission is to become a pediatrician to provide quality care.
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