The challenges of being an immigrant student
Pursuing higher education in the U.S. is a difficult path for many. Immigrant students, in particular, have to overcome a multitude of obstacles to get a diploma.
Migrating your family into the United States is a major sacrifice on its own. Since 2017, more than 11.3 million immigrants have made that difficult journey.
However, the challenges don’t stop once immigrants reach the U.S. Every year between five and 10% of undocumented high school students do not pursue college careers. Fabrine De Oliveira, a student, and first-generation immigrant confronted that reality along with her family.
From riding horses, to studying in the U.S.
De Oliveira was raised in Capitão Andrade, Mina Gerais, a state located in the north of southwestern Brazil. De Oliveira remembers getting around in horses because that was a traditional method of transportation where she grew up. But she also remembers that the jobs in her country were very scarce, and unemployment in her hometown continues to be high to this day.
De Oliviera’s mother completed school and was an elementary school teacher prior to immigrating to the U.S.
Her father was one of six children and had to drop out of school at an early age to attend to his father’s business and provide for their family. De Oliviera and her family immigrated to the United States when she was only six-years-old.
When she immigrated to the U.S. at the age of six in Feb. 2004, De Olivera was not able to enroll in school right away. Instead, she had to wait until the following September in order to attend, which resulted in her to be one year behind. While attending school, she faced more challenges.
“I was bullied for not knowing the language,” De Olivera said.
To learn the English language, she enrolled in the ESOL program for six months and became fluent.
The challenges for DACA college students
However, De Oliveria, a DACA recipient, faced additional bumps in the road while applying to colleges. With the help of her high school, she was able to find a college that was the right fit for her and also mirrored De Oliveira’s values and supported DACA students.
De Olivera acknowledged that DACA recipients often have fewer resources available to them than students who are U.S. citizens. Nonetheless, Oliveira has managed to make it to her senior year of college, and honor her family for their sacrifices through the years. De Oliveira is expected to graduate in Dec. of 2019, a semester earlier than the rest of her class.
“I am a product of their migration and their sacrifices, and that is something I will always be proud of,” De Oliveira said.
There are many students like Oliveira who have similar stories or are going through this challenge along with their families. People in developing countries are fleeing their homelands and searching for better opportunities in the United States — and the road to a better life remains difficult when seeking higher education as an immigrant in the country.