My name is Belina and I am originally from Mexico and have been living in California for the past 20 years, As a long-time volunteer in my community, I quickly learned that if I wanted to improve the conditions of my low-income community, I needed to go to college.
During high school I was a member of the Academic Decathlon team and competed for two years gaining various recognitions with my team. I took 11 AP classes and numerous honors courses and graduated with the top 5 of my class. As I embarked on my journey to higher education my US Citizen father fell out of my life. I realized that he could have helped me but didn’t. As his only undocumented relative, he turned his back on me as his daughter and limited my opportunities.
Complex immigration laws and expensive lawyers make it even more difficult to find a resolution in my life though I am actively searching for an answer. The road has been tough with extremely limited ways to pay for my tuition and books. I have even dropped out of school several times in order to save up. Even now, I have little complaints — part of the American dream is working hard.
However,I am now 22 on the verge of graduating from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in the field of International Development. I have come to call Los Angeles my home and I love it–I want to contribute back as much as possible to the world where I grew up and where I have my fondest memories.