This is one in a series of posts on individual Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as young children, many of whom are under threat of deportation following the Trump administration’s decision in September 2017 to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA.
Jorge Mendez Barcelo is a Dreamer with ambition. He has already earned a master’s degree in business administration from Woodbury University (CA) and started his own tax consultancy business. Now he has his sights set on law school.
Mendez arrived in the United States in 2007, 15 years old and with no English skills, according to a profile in Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. His parents stayed behind in Mexico while sending him and a sister to the United States due to a family crisis. Protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Mendez is allowed to live and work in the United States but cannot leave the country to visit his family. He sees them only once a year when they come visit him.
After his arrival, Mendez quickly learned English through ESL classes and then earned a full-ride athletic scholarship to Hawaii Pacific University, where he graduated with a degree in accounting. He then chose Woodbury University for graduate school because of its small size and networking opportunities, and was asked to speak at his commencement ceremony this past year.
“It meant a lot to me because my grandpa had recently died, so I wanted to dedicate it to him and my dad, who is sick with cancer,” Mendez said of the chance to tell his story at graduation. “It was my opportunity to show my parents what I would do in an academic environment, because even though they are very supportive, because they live in Mexico, they only come and visit for a limited time, so they were never able to see me in any academic competitions or athletic competitions. That was the first time that they actually saw me doing something that I liked and that was meaningful.”
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