How do you convince a student that he matters when this country says that he doesn’t?
The buzz word as senior year began was “undocumented”. For any readers not from the USA, undocumented is the term given to those who are not legal US citizens. Koolaid arrived in this country with his family as a child. He turned 1 years old the day that he arrived, a mere baby. I haven’t met a 1 year old yet who wakes up and says that he wants to move to a new country and learn a different life in a place that did not welcome him with open arms. As a matter of fact, Koolaid’s early childhood was downright scary and one that I will not repeat, as he does read these postings. Those memories still haunt him. What I do know is that he started kindergarten in my hometown, came up pledging allegiance to the same flag as the rest of his peers but would graduate high school with limited options because he was undocumented.
It was senior year and graduation was imminent. It was not only expected, but guaranteed. He never believed that it was possible to graduate because enough people told him that he would not. It was hard. The word “undocumented” made him want to give up on several occasions. Why work hard for something when you have no options to do it? Koolaid watched his sister work since she was 14 years old, saving money to pay for college. She was an honor graduate who dreamed of being a teacher but that dream had to be funded by their family. Koolaid remembered that.
Yes, there were options. Students in the state of Texas without citizenship could apply for funding as undocumented students but that funding was limited. Students could also speak to their individual financial aid offices who often had their hands on other funding networks. Eastfield College was great at doing this.
Regardless, for a student who often focuses on the negative, he fell back into the trap of believing that the world was against him. Every morning he came to my room, C105, to get his thoughts out. He asked questions and lots of them. Getting past the paperwork issue was minimal compared to what was really bothering him…living a life outside of the comforts of being a student…the comforts of home and the convenience of me being there. I understood my place in his life and his future success. I take zero credit for what he was able to accomplish. It was all him!
By December, we had plans. He would go on to junior college and study something. I offered to pay for it myself because if he wanted to go to college, he was going!
January brought new challenges and a new path.