Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Migrant Students Still Pursue American Dream

TEMPE — Diego Medina found himself studying for one of the toughest semesters in nursing school yet.

“I knew it would be hard, but never thought the stress would be like a shot of adrenaline,” Medina says.

Medina, a nursing junior at ASU, was raised in Phoenix since the age of 8, when his parents brought him with them from Mexico. He went through the Arizona K-12 educational system and graduated high school with a 3.5 grade point average.

Medina was admitted into Arizona State University before he graduated from high school and was awarded a full ride scholarship to ASU along with a $500 scholarship from the Phoenix Union High School District.

But after November 2006, undocumented students like Medina were denied financial aid. That’s when voters passed Proposition 300, which restricts access to all public monies for undocumented aliens to continue their college education.

At Arizona State University alone, more than 200 students who were unable to show documentation proving legal residency in Arizona dropped out without the assistance of financial aid.

Prior to the passage of Prop. 300, undocumented students in the state of Arizona did not have access to federal financial aid. Prop. 300 further restricted accesses to state monies, such as merit-based scholarships and discounted in-state tuition.

Medina’s immigration status had never been thought of as more than an inconvenience on his daily life.

“Your immigration status wasn’t something that just came up during lunch hour,” he jokes.

Students like Medina were left without funds substantial enough to cover the $12,000 tuition difference between in-state to out-of-state status.

“I thought to myself, ‘my salary is nowhere close to enough to pay for tuition as a full-time student,’ so I just decided I would have no choice but to take once class per semester,” Medina says.

His dreams of becoming a dentist and making his parents proud soon became blurred in the light of the controversial referendum.

“I didn’t think the law would actually pass,” Medina says. “I thought this was only going to be a scare to the state for more rigid regulations in the system, but I never really thought it would go through until it did.”

In 2007, after the law was enacted activists who opposed the law created a program to help those students now illegible for scholarships they previously held. The new scholarship for undocumented students was called the Sunburst Scholarship.

Continue reading this article

Diego Medina is a perfect example of the kind of people we want and need in this country; hardworking, studious, perseverant. Just like Diego, there are thousands of students in the same situation. And even though we're going through this, we are truly some of the smartest and most dedicated students out there. We just want a chance to study and contribute to the only country they call home, The United States.

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