College Education for Dream Act Student

I was born in Veracruz, Mexico. When I turned two years old my parents moved to the border of the United States and Mexico. Living for seven years at the border changed my life "“ both in good and bad ways.

My parents came from poor families. My dad did not have an education because he started working at the age of eight, and my mom attended first grade and then was pulled out of school. Education was not an option for my parents; they started working at a young age because they needed the money to survive.

I was raised in Chihuahua and started my education when I was five years old. My dad worked a double shift, and my mom worked from morning until evening. While growing up I did not see my parents too much - special days passed without celebrations because of their jobs. When I started first grade there were 28 kids -13 girls and 15 boys - in my class. All the boys in the class were associated with gangs including me; there were no good mentors, role models, or anyone to give us a single word of wisdom or encouragement. Because I did not have anyone looking over me or keeping track of me I got into the gangs with my friends. I thought I had found a new family that actually cared for me, but I was wrong. We unknowingly committed crimes at a young age, but it was the rule of life to fight to live another day even if it meant committing crimes.

My childhood turned cold and dark growing up at the border. The drug war in México started booming and murders started occurring in the streets where I lived. When I walked the two miles to school by myself, I would see dead bodies in the streets, drug deals, and corruption that ended my faith in humanity.

When I was eight, my parents decided to move my family to the United States to pursue their dream, which was to give me an education. They wanted me to have the opportunity to study in the US and to graduate from high school. When I arrived here, I kept in contact with my friends in Mexico; from the fifteen boys in my first grade class, only two are still alive. I am one of the two, thanks to my parents. Thirteen of my classmates were killed in gang-related brawls or because they worked for a drug cartel. Thanks to my parents I got out of my path to death by moving to South Carolina.

But I had to face other problems such as the language barrier, not knowing people, adapting to a new culture, and starting life all over again. God put guardian angels through my whole journey from elementary school to high school but still I had ups and downs. In my junior year of high school, I was heartbroken, because my college options were extremely limited due to my legal status. It would have been illegal for me to attend a state university in South Carolina. Thankfully there was a change in the immigration policy to let me have a work permit, to get a Social Security number, and to attend college.

So I have enrolled in Trident Technical College's International Business program. While I am thrilled that I can now attend college, I am unfortunately classified as an "international student" and do not qualify for in-state tuition rates or state or federal scholarships or loans. $10,000 will pay for me to take approximately 10 of the 24 courses I need to complete to earn my degree. I know money is scarce due to our bad economy at the moment, and you have worked hard to earn your money. But I would like to ask you for help.

I now have the opportunity to change my future and the future of other people by continuing my education. But I am afraid of losing this opportunity because of finances. Currently, 89% of low-income, first generation students leave college without graduating in their first six years. I do not want to be part of that statistic. I also don't want to lose the opportunity to offer the world a better and more productive citizen.

So today with all my heart and humility I ask for your help. In return for your contribution, I promise you I will put all my efforts to having the highest grades possible, keeping up with school, never missing school, and getting extra help if I ever need it. With your help I can study and fulfill my dreams of obtaining a degree in International Business. By helping me to get an education and a good job in the future, you are also helping future students. I promise to give back to the community by helping future students continue studying and realizing their dreams too.

I have lived in a very scary world, but I am no longer afraid. I know there are good people in this world, and I know that I can count on them if I need the help. I promise that I will work hard to make you proud of me. We never know what the future holds in front of us. Today you are helping me, but tomorrow if you need help, I will help you. I hope to be a great person in the future and to leave a legacy of pride to all the people who have helped me. I will make sure that you will never regret the help you have offered me. I will pay it back in one way or another.

I sincerely thank you ahead of time. I am grateful I am here today and have connected with wonderful people like you that have changed my life for good. All the good you have offered me - I will return it, either by offering the help to others in need, or to you one day.

p.s. Mrs. Jean Madden is managing all of my college finances. She is a friend of mine and my college counselor and I trust her completely. Your donation will go to a fund that only she can access and is used only for college expenses.
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Jean Pendleton Madden 
Charleston, SC
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