Teresa Butler

I think the hardest part of adapting to my new life was learning English and feeling like I was always behind other kids. This prompted me to keep improving. In high school, from my status, I began to believe that college was not my choice. However, an organization called U-Lead provides support for undocumented first-generation students. I always felt welcomed by the volunteers and mentors who really helped me. They introduced me to The Dream.US, and I wouldn’t be me today without them. The degree is important to me because I want to be a role model for the brothers. I want to use my education to find a job that can financially support my parents and siblings. My parents have never graduated from high school and I am the first family member to go on to college. Without access to this higher education, I would probably have worked full time. And without that scholarship, I had no other plan but to keep working hard.

When I was a kid, my parents were always afraid of law enforcement and immigration, and they are still. I always knew I didn’t have the paperwork, but I wasn’t afraid to share my status unless my parents told me. I tell other kids that I’m from Mexico, and they’ll say I don’t have a papelle. The weight of my status (or lack of it) didn’t really affect me until I wanted to get a driver’s license and work like any other teenager. When DACA was first introduced, it felt like the luggage was lifted from my shoulders and I thought I could finally become a normal teenager. I think life in Mexico was quite different than it is now. I grew up in southern Georgia, but until I got older I wasn’t sure why it was important. Growing up, I knew that both Mexico and Georgia could be called home.

My parents first decided to travel to the United States when I was about 6 years old. I remember being very excited to reunite with my grandparents and other family members who had come to the United States before us. In order for my family to come to the United States, my dad had to come a few months early so that he could make money to help my mother and his children. When we arrived, we started living with our grandparents and mother’s siblings. My brother and I shared the bedroom with my parents. A total of about 11 people lived in a 4-bedroom house. We leave everything behind, unite and for a better future.