Hispanic Heritage Month: Reflections from a Dreamer

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Cinthya Ortiz (Fall 2016 Braven Fellow, San José State University)

I’m Cinthya — a twenty-two-year-old college student born in Morelia Michoacan, Mexico. I was raised in Nipomo, California to a family of six. Like thousands of others with no recollection of my home country, I was brought into the United States at the age of four. That’s right, I’m a Dreamer.

Growing up, this country constantly reminded me that I needed to “echarle ganas” to achieve the same goals as my peers. And even though this country celebrates Hispanic History Month, I was constantly reminded that I was different, solely because of my documentation status.

My parents were rooted in that fear. And that fear grew through everyday interactions by faculty who made sure I filled out extra paperwork explaining the reason for not having a SSN assigned to me. It grew by having to wait for SB1060 to go into effect to obtain a license. These experiences have shaped and alienated me in ways only fellow Dreamers can understand.

Forming a community amongst ourselves, sharing our stories, and our worries have been the motivation to move past, yet another hurdle in my pursuit of academic and personal goals. Additionally, the continued support I have received from family, friends, colleagues, and faculty at SJSU has not gone unnoticed and I am incredibly grateful.

Personally, I have been encouraged by Marcos Pizarro, Mexican American Studies professor at SJSU, who speaks about Community Cultural Wealth and the assets that students like me bring to the world. He emphasizes the importance of our story and how to utilize it to solve issues that daily people like me face in the current political and social climate.

For me, there is no clearer career objective than to support my community and inform one another. The career role I take is still to be determined, but I do know that the need for Hispanic leadership in this country is great. We as a Hispanic community still hold fewer seats and titles in the workforce from local to Federal levels. I hope to play a role in closing that gap and hope that you join me this Hispanic Heritage Month.