Community Support Helped Me Get to UC Berkely

If my community invested in me then in turn I would invest in my education and pull through all-nighters and study sessions.

Pablo Jimenez, a 2014 scholarship recipient from Santa Ana, shares about his first semester in college and what receiving the OCIYU Scholarship for Undocumented Students meant to him.

I was hesitant in telling my friends and family that I got into and hoped to be attending the University of California, Berkeley come Fall. While I heard “Congratulations!” and “You earned it mijo!” from my teachers and mentors, the price tag hanging from the college diploma I yearned for told me “You can’t afford this.” And it hurt.

It hurt to think that all the nights I spent studying during high school, and that all my involvement in school clubs and extracurricular activities would have amounted to nothing. What good was it getting into UC Berkeley if I couldn’t pay the fee for the Statement of Intent to Register (SIR)? Having never had a job and not wanting to ask my parents for money, I had to look for scholarships in order to make my dreams of attending UC Berkeley a reality.

With financial help for undocumented students being as scarce as it is, I was lucky to have found OCIYU’s scholarship. The scholarship immediately lifted a tremendous financial stress from my shoulders and made it possible for me to not only pay my SIR fee but also buy one of my college textbooks. Thus, I cannot overstate my gratitude towards the OCIYU team and their scholarship donors, as their support made my first semester at UC Berkeley possible.  My first semester in college met me with the daunting task of navigating the “college world”; a world that consists of making friends, managing financial problems, trying to enjoy your free time, and studying. Lots and lots of studying.

While constantly stressed during midterms and finals, I would remember the scholarship. I would remember and realize that the scholarship was not just $250 dollars given to me for my personal use. It was a lot more than that. The scholarship was a promise to myself and my community. Upon receiving and using the scholarship money, I vowed to give it my all. If my community invested in me then in turn I would invest in my education and pull through all-nighters and study sessions. This mentality helped ease my transition from home to Berkeley and allowed me to pass all my classes my first semester.

In my scholarship essay, I remember questioning my ability to defy the “undocumented student” label placed on me. And after reflecting upon my first semester and what it means to be undocumented in higher education, I can say with the utmost assurance that I did defy whatever label society has placed on me and my community. And I will continue to throughout my time in academia.

OCIYU is committed to continue providing financial assistance to undocumented students. Donate today and have your donation matched dollar by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

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