I vividly remember the day I arrived at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with a tiny backpack and my hand gripping my father. We were greeted by my mother who arrived in the USA a year before us. Looking back on this moment, I never realized that this one decision my parents made to give me a better life would change everything forever.
Growing up in the USA as an immigrant, my parents always made sure that I knew I could be anything. I believed I was the same as my peers and could reach for my dreams. Little did I know that I didn’t have the same opportunities as my peers. One summer day before freshman year of high school, my parents sat me down to explain the green card backlog. I sat there soaking in the words “you can’t apply for a job… you aren’t eligible for a LOT of scholarships… can’t apply to many schools as an in-state student…high chance of deportation when you turn 21”. As I sat there hearing all the things I “can’t do” because of my visa status, I began to question everything I had ever done. What could I have done differently? I thought I had done everything right by taking college classes and being in the top 5% of my class and even earning state level recognition for piano. But it all seemed to boil down to one thing: my visa status. Learning about this at a younger age than most helped prepare me for the worst before it arrived. However, my mental health took a huge hit. I remember crying at times because I was not sure what I was going to do about my future.
The one thing that kept me going was my parents. Knowing how much they had sacrificed for me, I decided to not let this be my story. I am determined to not let my immigration status define my destiny.