Out-Of-State Tuition but Never Out-of-Hope

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Out-Of-State Tuition but Never Out-of-Hope

My name is Maria Del Socorro Leon Pena. I am a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiary. I was born in Mexico. When I was 5 years old my family and I came to the United States for a better life. We escaped poverty, and in Arizona my parents found the opportunities they wouldn’t have had in Mexico. We came without the proper authorization because at that time there was no other way out. Ever since I crossed the border, part of my family and I have lived in Arizona. Once I came to the U.S. I was enrolled to Harold W. Smith Elementary School in the kindergarten in Glendale, Arizona. Today, I am a student at Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC). I am not only a scholar, I am a sister who has helped raise her two younger brothers, I am a Young Life leader who works hard to be a positive influence in the life of teenagers by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am a change agent who helps people learn about the beauty of diversity and how to create an inclusive community for the Diversity Incorporated Program at PVCC, I am a future pediatrician who is going to use her knowledge & skills to provide free medical care for the less fortunate and I am a member of Aliento who will stand up for our civil rights. I am many other things, but most importantly, I am a human.

The overturn of in-state tuition weighs heavy on me. For two years, I paid for all my college expenditures out of my own pocket. Only once I received a scholarship of one hundred dollars to help me pay for a semester. To me, it was a blessing to have the ability to pay for my own education at PVCC. I never really made looking for scholarships a priority because I knew that with my work permit I could pay for my studies and wanted to give those opportunities to others who needed them more. This was only possible because I was able to pay for in-state tuition. If and when this decision comes into effect, there is no way I will be able to pay for my education out of pocket. My mother is a single parent who makes about $22,000 per year, and sometimes less. I am only a part-time employee who earns the minimum wage plus about $200 in tips every two weeks. Without in-state tuition my dreams of becoming a pediatrician are unreachable and unattainable.

Despite this decision, I still have hope. I hope this decision is appeal. I hope that I may continue to attend PVCC. I hope to become a pediatrician one day. I hope that the idea of out-of-state tuition for students who lived in Arizona for many years ceases to exist. I know there are many things that are out of my control. But, this is not one of them. I know I cannot directly change this decision, but I have the power to share my story,  speak up, stay in school, and be part of Aliento so we can together influence those who have the power to change this.

Reyna Montoya