Portrait of Marlene Rangel

“If it wasn’t for DACA, I know that I wouldn’t be in college.”

BMC_118Photo by Steve Mann

I was eight years old when I left my home.  I remember my parents waking me up to leave, but I didn’t know where we were going. We had to walk for a long time and then cross a river. That’s when it hit me and I realized we were actually going somewhere far. We rode a cold train, and then flew on a plane. I remember wanting to sleep, but my parents wouldn’t let me because they were afraid that I would get hyperthermia and not wake up again. They would hug me close to keep me warm, but I remained cold and hungry.

Once in the U.S. I started school, but I didn’t know how to speak English. My dad would come to school with me for the first weeks so I could get used to it. It was so hard to adjust and get used to everything especially because I had classes with mostly English speakers. I did have one classmate who was Hispanic. He and I became very good friends, because we both spoke Spanish and understood each other well.

I finished the school year, and passed to the next grade level. I then took summer school and that helped me catch up on my English. I had to learn English because I wanted to get along with my classmates and make friends. As the years passed, my English improved and I adjusted to the American culture.

Everything had fallen into place and I was comfortable feeling a part of the American society. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school, where things changed and reality hit me. I came to find out that I could not go to college because I was undocumented. This whole time I knew that I wasn’t from here, but I didn’t know that I couldn’t go to college for that same reason. This was really hard for me because I wanted to go to college. I wanted to be a nurse and it was heartbreaking to find out that my dream wasn’t going to be easy to achieve.

My parents have remained my motivation to keep myself in school. I know that if my parents would have had the opportunity to go to college, then my dad wouldn’t be working in construction and our style of living would have been different. My dad has always told me that if he would have had the opportunity to go to college, his dream would have been to become a mechanic.

In 2012, Obama passed the executive order, DACA (The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). This 2-year permit granted young undocumented individuals a temporary license and social security number with the condition that all applicants fulfill certain requirements. If it wasn’t for DACA, I know that I wouldn’t be in college. This made it easier for me to be accepted in community college and afford it. Perhaps I would have eventually gone to college, but it would have been harder to afford.

After graduating high school in 2013, I continued my education. As a DACA student, I couldn’t get into the nursing program or obtain a practice license. Knowing this, I still maintained myself in school hoping that one day the community college would change its policies for DACA students to be allowed practice licenses. I now know that anything is possible. I have the opportunity to be what I want and do what I want. I have to take that opportunity and not waste it.

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is presenting the performance of Silvana Cardell’s Supper, People on the Move, accompanied by Jennifer Baker’s exhibit Portraits of People on the Move, on October 27 and 28 at Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer’s 22 London Rd. Studio in Asheville, NC. New portraits — “People on the Move” in western North Carolina by photographer Steve Mann and UNC Asheville journalist Karen Lopez — have been added.

For more information: http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/supper-people-move/

 

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