Gabriela loved school and earned high grades, but as an undocumented student, she didn’t know if college was a possibility. Her family was supportive, but they were unfamiliar with the admission process and how to finance her education. They wondered how they could afford college — especially after Gabriela discovered that in her state, undocumented students have to pay out-of-state tuition at public colleges.
Because Gabriela was facing out-of-state tuition costs, she decided that a local two-year college was the right place to begin her education. She was lucky enough to have a high school counselor she describes as a “total whiz about colleges all over the United States.” That counselor recommended a community college in the area with an honors program that offered scholarships to accepted students. Gabriela discovered that it's often easier for undocumented students to get into and receive financial support from private colleges. So she decided that after earning an associate degree at her two-year college, she would transfer to a private four-year college.
Gabriela loved that her community college had small classes and she could get one-on-one feedback from professors. Her favorite professor taught English and helped her improve her writing skills. He was very patient," she said. “I would visit his classroom … every day, just to keep asking him about the same assignment … I came out of the class knowing so much more about essay writing, about everything. Gabriela was accepted at a private four-year college that awarded her enough scholarship money to cover about half her costs. To help make the transition to a new school farther from home, Gabriela found on-campus resources and a support network of students who shared similar experiences. She is studying biochemistry, hoping to attend graduate school and then pursue a career as a teacher or researcher. And though the college planning process was overwhelming at times, she says it was worth it. I have definitely been very happy with my college experience. It has been rough but very fun and rewarding. These are wonderful memories I will always have.