My whole life has been a constant hurdle with no water break in between. I was brought to this country as an undocumented kid at the age of only 6 years old. I was faced with the challenges of language and culture barriers. All I knew was soccer growing up, but i had to quickly trade that in for a baseball and glove. The education system wasn't designed for student’s from other countries so I found myself, skipping class and getting detention. I wanted to learn, but the material wasn’t relevant to me or my environment. At 16 years old, I found myself in juvenile hall and on probation, I hit a rock bottom in my life. With nowhere to go but up, I pleaded for a second chance and for an opportunity to make things right. I enrolled into community college while on ankle monitor (GPS) determined more than ever. My first semester I received a 3.7 GPA and received honor roll. I was able to graduate from community college in two years and got off probation. In 2017 I received my bachelor's degree from the University of Santa Barbara and this year, I received my Masters degree from SF State.
Recently, at 24 years old, I have been accepted to a Doctorate program at Cal State University, Los Angeles. Because I am undocumented I cant receive financial Aid or receive any loans which leaves me scrambling for funds. Most scholarships aren’t available right now so my options are very limited. It is extremely difficult to navigate the education system being undocumented.
I know how important it is to have minority voices heard in higher education. An undocumented student graduation with his doctorate will be a powerful message to students in similar situations. I plan on using my education to help underrepresented students become successful in academia. I started put in community college.I will share similar experiences of my youth and will be able to help better serve them in the future. On Saturday mornings I volunteer at juvenile hall and encourage young boys to turn their life around. I currently work with youth at a homeless shelter, where I case manage them and show them strategies on how to be resilient and navigate the system being men of color. I always want to make sure I give back to my community and help others that may one day be in my situation. My name is Manny Flores and thank you for your time.