Editor’s note: Last week, the Maryland State Senate approved the “Maryland DREAM Act,” a bill that will allow all qualifying Maryland high school graduates to pay an in-state college tuition rate regardless of immigration status. The legislation is now moving on to the Maryland House of Delegates. This week, we’re featuring three students who are working with CASA of Maryland to make their higher education dreams a reality.
As a U.S. private foundation, OSI does not attempt to influence legislation (commonly referred to as lobbying) and does not state a position on any legislation. The blog posting that follows describes the experiences of the student and does not necessarily reflect the views of OSI.
I couldn’t sleep at all the night before the hearing for the Maryland DREAM Act knowing I would have to testify before the State Senate. All my hard work in school and in the Youth Committee was in preparation for that day. I waited in the room of the hearing…quiet and nervous. All around me I could see my friends and supporters. We didn’t talk, but we were all on the same page. My mouth was dry and I was grabbing on to my testimony so hard I thought I was gonna rip it. Right before my turn to testify, my heart started to beat really hard. I got scared about saying I was undocumented, about giving information about my family, especially with the anti-immigrant people around. They looked at me with hate and I asked myself, how can a person hate another person so much? One woman even interrupted me during an interview with the news. I felt so bad for a little bit, but then reminded myself that this is why I have to testify, to make sure the truth gets out there.
Throughout this fight I have felt sad, angry, unsure, and even in the darkest moments I have wanted to give up, but I never did because I knew that we have to continue to fight for justice. I was given the opportunity to have a voice and my message wasn’t just about me, but about all the young people out there that are scared, that have lost hope, that need this law to recognize that they have a future. I was honored to have the chance to represent those youth, but also to tell about my successes. I have been fighting for my dream for so long, but today I knew I deserved it. No matter what happens after now, I have something that no one can ever take: purpose. Did I really promise to graduate, to go to college and get a degree and come back to the State Senate to show them the fruits of their labor? Now, I have to study for a test and do my homework.