Giancarlo Tejeda's College Dreams

My family and I emigrated from Colombia when I was just three years old, but we were denied our residency papers and became undocumented immigrants. Still we were determined to make the best of our experience here with the opportunities that were given to me, even if I wouldn't have as many as others. I decided at a young age that I would succeed -- even if the odds were against me -- because it’ll make my triumph that much sweeter.

I grew up in Miami, where there are people from all around the world, as well as a great community. Because of this community, I have gotten through some of my toughest times and have never felt alone because I am surrounded by people that understand and sympathize with my struggle.

Starting a new life in a foreign country isn’t easy.  My parents had to face starting over with nothing, leaving their own professions back in Colombia, and struggle to find whatever work they can. Still, they inspire me to push on, to work hard, and pursue my goals because they sacrificed so much in order to give their children a better life and more opportunities than they had.

Following the example of my parents’ valiant efforts and selfless sacrifices, I strive to excel in everything that I do, and work hard to obtain that better life that they wanted for me. I’m always challenging myself to improve and am always motivated to help others that are in need.

School became my sanctuary, a place where it didn’t matter where I came from or what my legal status was. The only thing that mattered was how hard I worked.  In this environment, I thrived and even looked for more rigor, attending a high school that is a two hour bus ride from home.

My dream is to become a biomedical engineer and go into neurological research.  I want to make an impact, helping find cures for diseases like Alzheimer's as well as other neurological illnesses that plague so many of our loved ones. 

I applied to numerous colleges, hoping to get closer to achieving my dream, hoping to find a scholarship, a grant, to be accepted to a school with endowments that would help finance my education. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I have been accepted to the University of Florida and New York University; but, as great as these institutions are, they cannot provide me with enough financial assistance in order for me to attend. 

As an undocumented student, I don't qualify for federal financial aid, scholarships, grants or even loans. My dream, which seemed so near, now seems out of reach.  

I hope that, by sharing my story, I can find the help I need to realize my college dreams; I also hope that by coming forward with my story, I can help others in similar situations continue to reach for their own goals.  

The route I have chosen to take in my life is not an easy one, but I know that my hard work, and my parents’ sacrifice, will be worth it in the end. 

Thank you to all those who have helped me realize my dream.

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Giancarlo Tejeda
Miami, FL

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