Ethnically Indian, I was born in Fiji and I came to the United States when I was three-years-old. Six months later, I became Undocumented. At the age of 23, I became Undocumented and Unafraid.
Being raised in America, I caught the “American Dream” virus that was spread by teachers. In elementary school and middle school, I never knew what it meant to be undocumented; all I knew is that I had a passion to learn. I was exactly like the student sitting next to me learning about the values this country was founded on, believing that those who work hard can succeed in America. As sappy as it may sound, obtaining an education felt like my calling. The teachers must have seen my thirst for knowledge and recognized the eagerness in my non-verbal and verbal expressions because they always encouraged me to learn and achieve at my full potential.
My accomplishments read like a grocery list. I have been on the Honor Roll since kindergarten. In middle school, I won academic medals through my participation in MESA and Science Fairs. For every year that I was in high school, I volunteered an average of 300 hours, raising funds for March of Dimes, breast cancer research, and UNICEF. I took on an average of five honors and advanced placement courses a year. I gained the respect of the student body, teachers, and administrators through my dedication and desire to be a hardworking student. I graduated in the top five percent of my high school graduating class. I was accepted to CSULB, CSUMB, CSULA, CSUF, UCLA, UCSC, and LMU. At the conclusion of my senior year I accumulated more than $10,000 in scholarships from private donors ranging from $250 to $1,500. I was unable to qualify for financial aid, so I chose to pursue my undergraduate Business Administration degree with a minor in Speech Communication at CSU, Fullerton. In May of 2005, I became the first person in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. On October 1, 2011, I will submit my application for the masters in Speech Communication with emphases in Intercultural and Organization Communication to CSU, Fullerton.
The challenges faced by undocumented students are unique, but nevertheless, humbling. During my first year at CSU, Fullerton I commuted by public transportation, traveling two hours to campus. Thankfully, my teachers and scholarship donors believed in me enough to provide funding for my education. I had enough to comfortably finish my first year without having to worry about paying tuition. Nonetheless, I still had to scrape together the funds for the following year. I found a job that paid minimum wage and I saved every penny by cutting my expenses to the bare minimum. My paycheck had the federal, state, and local taxes withheld. Like everyone who works in this country, I always had taxes due to Uncle Sam. I would forgo any desire for material possessions because the desire to have a degree from a university was more important to me.
I am not a criminal. I am a productive member of society. I am educated. I am hard working. Given chance or opportunity, I will make a difference. By continuing to be Undocumented, America is being robbed of its opportunity to increase the productivity of companies; to have communities inspired, to experience significant change, and to have another humble public servant because if given the opportunity, this country would find all of these things in me. Research shows that individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are more prosperous. I want to give back to the community that nurtured my growth and development. Education is the light that I shine down the dark tunnel, to urge, challenge, and undermine the fear of not knowing my obscure future. I want to serve as a mentor to the youth in disadvantaged communities and encourage them to pursue a college education. I want to show those like me the door to success and hopefully they will be courageous enough to walk through it.
There are thousands of Undocumented college students who want to give back to the only country they know; their only home, the United States of America. People find it easy to say, “Deport them all!” To me that would mean leaving the only country that I know, leaving my mom and dad, leaving my four sisters, leaving my ten nieces and nephews, and leaving my friends, leaving behind an opportunity to make America a better place.
Immigration is a global issue affecting the lives of people everywhere. This is not just an issue for Mexicans, Central Americans, or South Americans; this is an issue for Asians, South Asians, Pacific Islanders, Australians, and anyone else who works hard and fights for the opportunity to selflessly give back to the only community they know.
We all have a choice. I choose to become a part of a higher purpose: to get the DREAM Act passed and make the world a better place. My aspiration to make a difference starts here.