Bruna Conceição is living her American dream
From being undocumented to having a social media platform as a law student, this is the journey of Bruna Conceição.
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Born and raised in the Marvelous City, Bruna Conceição — or just Conce — moved to Orlando at the age of 12. She grew up with her dad’s side of the family in Méier, Rio de Janeiro and her mother, Rafaela Gois, moved to the United States to be with her boyfriend, when Conce was still young.
Although mad at her mom for leaving her behind, Conce couldn’t reject Gois’ offer to come see the Disney parks during the winter break in Brazil.
Conce was supposed to stay for only two weeks, but when she was supposed to go back, the professors from her school in Brazil went on strike. Considering that she wouldn’t have classes for another month, Conce decided to extend her visit to spend more time with her mom.
Three months had passed and the strike continued. Conce was already enrolled in school in the U.S. when she realized she didn’t want to go back. She saw all the possibilities the new country could provide and decided to become an undocumented immigrant.
More than 10 years later, her decision finally paid off. She is not only living her dream of pursuing law school, but she is also a content creator with more than 875,000 followers on TikTok. Her social media presence is a mix of all her personalities. Including beauty hacks, law student content, her immigrant background and daily life and thoughts; Conce is living the life her 12-year-old self used to dream.
Life in secrecy
A lot of anxiety came with being undocumented in the U.S. Conce said she couldn’t tell anybody about her situation and had to be very careful with who she would share information with. The fact that she and her mom were constantly living on a budget added to the uncertainty of her American life.
When Conce was in 7th grade, Gois was reported to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The fear of getting deported and being separated made the two pack and leave Florida in less than 24 hours. They ended up living in California for almost 10 months, where Conce attended school while Gois cleaned houses and babysit.
“It was a time when we got really close,” Conce said. “We were struggling the most, so we had to take care of each other.”
Preparing for college
Since high school, Conce knew she wanted to go to law school as it represented a feeling of stability that she had craved for years. Her biggest motivation to stay in the U.S. was to one day finally be able to attend college and have a successful career; however, as an immigrant; the lack of resources, connections and knowledge of the American education system made this process more difficult.
A counselor advised her to take AP classes in order to increase her chances of being accepted into college, but Conce still struggled with the language during her first years.
When living in Florida, Conce would take English as a Second Language (ESL) courses, in which she would mostly speak Spanish or Portuguese with classmates and teachers, she said. On the other hand, during her time in California, she wasn’t on this program, so she took regular classes along with other native English speakers.
Conce credits being put out of her comfort zone to the transformation in her English while she was living in San Francisco. A believer that everything happens for a reason, she said that if it wasn't for the fear of deportation, she probably wouldn’t be where she is today.
“If it wasn’t for California, I wouldn’t have learned English in such a small period of time, which set a wave of events to happen,” Conce added. “Being able to speak English allowed me to take higher level courses earlier on which helped me with my GPA, which helped me get into college and, later, into law school.”
Back in Orlando, she started focusing on doing all she needed to get into college and make her American dream come true. Duo enrolled in classes and focused on extra curricular activities, school was the only time she would have for herself. She started to take full time care of her baby sister Julia so her mom could work in her new own food business. Gois had to work everyday since she couldn’t afford an employee, so Conce took on the mom role for Julia, giving up a lot of social teenage moments.
Six months before the end of senior year, Conce became a legal citizen, but she still didn’t have the money to even pay the deposit to attend Florida State University (FSU). With a script better than any soap opera, her mom’s restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives — hosted by Guy Fieri — and sales skyrocketed, making her college dream a reality.
FSU and the University of Miami
‘The best time of my life’ was how Conce described her time at FSU — from where she earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations and Affair, in Spring 2021. Living on her own for the first time and as a legal immigrant, Conce said she was physically, mentally and spiritually free.
“I felt I was living a dream,” she added. “For the first time I didn’t feel less than anybody else.”
After the first two years of college, things started to change — especially because of the pandemic. Her mom’s restaurant wasn’t doing well and her anxiety about the LSAT started to kick in. She managed to successfully graduate and start law school at the University of Miami (UM) — her long awaited dream.
On her first day of law school, she posted a TikTok video of her outfit and spoke about her background story as an immigrant to be able to be living that moment. The post went viral and Conce started to share more about her daily life at UM and interests, as well as the challenges of being a law student.
Law school and TikTok
As her social media presence expanded, Conce started talking about beauty hacks, personal thoughts and life — which started to have an impact in her future career in law. Many counselors and recruiters suggested that she stop being a content creator and focus only on being a lawyer.
Conce decided to trust her gut and keep her social media, and she is now reaping the benefits of it. As a content creator, she has had partnerships with big brands — such as Metro by T-Mobile, L’Oréal and Armani — and has recently started a TikTok account in Portuguese, to connect with her Brazilian followers. In less than two months, she received more than 650,000 followers.
“I hope to use my social media to pay back my student loans,” she said while laughing.
Conce doesn't discard the possibility of being a full time content creator in the future. However, now she is determined to make the best out of her law school experience. For the Spring semester, besides working with trademark for a law firm, she is also planning the Annual Sneaker Law x Miami Law Competition.
As she still has one and a half years left of law school, Conce is unsure about which path to follow. However, what she knows is that she doesn’t need to fit in just one box to be respected and successful.