A Dream Deferred

by Daniela Arias, Lincoln High School Senior

6/7/2017 | TACOMA, Washington

(Editor's Note: Daniela Arias wrote this personal essay as part of her application to attend University of Washington Tacoma. Daniela has applied to the University of Washington Tacoma and hopes to attend there this fall.)

"What happens to a dream deferred?' –Langston Hughes. Whatever does happen to a dream deferred- A dream you've spent your whole life preparing for, desired, and waited anxiously year after year? It's the dream of having an education, a stable career, a stable life different from now. Not only that, but I want to break the stereotype that because of my background I'm a dead weight to the country. Of course over the years there have been many obstacles which have tried to defer my dream. Relatives have told me "You are never going to graduate," just as my two older sisters never graduated (and still neither has finished H.S). This has made me doubt myself and has impacted my performance from time to time. Although I came to realize that I am capable of getting a higher education and being the first one in my family to graduate, my mom has been my biggest motivator to overcome my doubts. As a single mother of three daughters, she had the courage to leave everything behind in Mexico and risk her life just for an American Dream. Her American dream was not working-- 3 shifts day and night—her dream was to give us a better future, a better lifestyle, and a better education, and that means a lot to me. Which is something I will forever be grateful for. It's a debt I will never be able to repay. By completing my dream not only will I give her what she deserves but I'll show her that all her hard work hasn't been in vain.

Moving here to Tacoma, Washington from Los Angeles, California about eight months ago was one of the hardest things I ever endured. I had to leave my childhood friends, my sisters, my nieces and nephew, my hometown, my life. Everything that was related to what I called home was suddenly gone. I had to leave the bright sunny days for the evergreen rainy ones. As an outcome of this, I fell into a great depression where I ended up in the emergency room several times because I had headaches which made it hard to stand, and that led to half of my face going numb. I felt like an outcast in this new everything. Friendless, stressed out, lonely. Because of the great diversity here at Lincoln High, I didn't quite know how or where I fitted in.  It's harsh when you live up to the expectation that senior year is the last yet the greatest year of high school, but turns out to be the worst. Devastating. Despite all this, I've learned to overcome my insecurities. I'm more of an outgoing person, more social. I've made strong relationships with my teammates since I joined the bowling team, full of good, supportive, caring girls. This challenge I faced has also improved my relationship with my mom and now I constantly tell her how I feel, all my aspirations, my hopes, and dreams. I have also started making strong relationships with teachers and counselors who I know can guide me to pursue my dream. Which has made me grow in knowledge.

As of now the biggest fear I'm facing is President Donald Trump. I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico on October 5, 1999, and brought to America when I was only months old. On August 15, 2012, President Barrack Obama created a new policy called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It gives me a renewable two-year work permit as well as an exemption from deportation. That gives me a non-immigrant legal status but isn't a path to citizenship. President Trump has also imposed on me a stereotype and threatened to take away the only thing that has given me an opportunity and has brought me out of the shadows. As a result of this, I haven't slept in days. I fear for my future day to day. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being deported. Fear of going back to a place where my birth certificate says I was born but I have no memory of such a place. Fear of leaving my lifestyle. Fear of leaving my dreams, hopes, and goals behind. I've grown up like any other American child. Speaking fluent English. Went to preschool where we would sing the itsy bitsy spider and the A B C's. Started elementary school when I was four. Where dipping your hand into paint to make Thanksgiving turkeys was the best thing ever. Where ordering a happy meal from McDonald's actually brought happiness. Where Elmo was ultimately the best monster ever as well as my best friend. Where the 4th of July was not only a day to have a barbecue but to celebrate our independence from Britain. Despite people saying that this isn't my independence or my country, in my heart it is. It's all I've ever known, all I've ever seen. My heart doesn't know about birth certificates, boundaries or nationalities. All it knows about is what America has given and done for me. Everything--physically and morally more than you can imagine. Compared to all those children in Mexico starving, living in slums, with extreme poverty, I'm forever grateful for all the privileges I have.

A dream can only be deferred if you let it slip away'; as a dreamer, I will pursue it till I achieve it. In the hardest circumstances, I'll be there. Chasing it.                                        

And may God bless America.