Journey of a Dreamer and Engineer

Guest Post by Juan Casas. He was born in Mexico and was brought to the US at the age of two. He grew up in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles and attended several schools because his family moved frequently. During the summer before starting high school, he was selected through the raffle system to be a part of the first generation of Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High School under Green Dot Schools. He excelled all four years and was involved in sports and school actives. In his senior year, he applied to several Cal States and UCs and was accepted to a majority, but due to his financial status, he chose East Los Angeles Community College to begin his college career. There he took general courses and found his strong interest for engineering. In 2012, he transferred to Cal State LA and began his major in electrical engineering. In 2015, he obtained his bachelor’s of science in electrical engineering. He currently works at ThyssenKrupp Aerospace full-time and plans to start a master’s degree program in spring 2018. During his free time, he enjoys dancing salsa, dedicating time to his friends and family, and volunteering his time to help out the community. In the near future, he definitely would like to become a senior electrical engineer. This post originally appeared on La Comadre.

My mother brought me to the United States when I was two years old. Imagine a single mother crossing the border with a toddler. Every step we took, we took together. Thank God we got to Los Angeles where we took refuge in a distant cousin’s home. As every immigrant begins one working day and night to get ahead, I remember my early years going from house to house because there was no one to take care me while my mother worked. Shortly after my mother met the man who decided to spend the rest of his life with her, I had a father, and soon my first sister arrived.

At 16, I started to work because I wanted to help contribute to my family. My first job required me to start work in the middle of the night. My shift  was from 2:00 AM to 12 PM. This was an opportunity for me to help my family, and I was paid in cash because of my legal status.

A few years later, I graduated from Oscar de la Hoya Animo Charter High School, and I then started my first official classes at East Los Angeles Community College. It was a long journey until I earned my bachelors of science degree in electrical engineering in 2015 from Cal State University, Los Angeles. I had to work two jobs to pay for my college education. While I spent long hours in the library or at home studying as my family slept, the goal was clear that I needed to continue to pushing ahead. Several times I slept in the school parking lot because giving up was not an option. Finally, I became the first college graduate in my family. I was proud of what I had accomplished, but I knew that this was just the beginning.

When I was 22 years old, on June 15, 2012, President Obama made the announcement the DACA program. This changed my life like many other students who also have a similar story to tell about being undocumented in the US. We have not given up because the journey is long, but we also have faith that everything will fine. In supporting DACA, we support the future of our community.

If there is not a solution to DACA, I, like 800,000 other DREAMers will lose our work permits as the program phases out. We will also lose our jobs and the ability to contribute to our families, communities, and the greater economy.

The next few weeks and months ahead will be crucial given President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA. I ask that people continue to support DACA and people with stories similar to my own.

What do you think?

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