Friday, July 10, 2009

North Carolina Youth Rally for Equal Education Access: Yazmin’s Story

"My name is Yazmin, I am a student at Guilford College and this summer I've been working at the American Friends Service Committee. AFSC is committed to college access for immigrant students, but as a pacifist organization, AFSC is deeply concerned with the inclusion of military service in the proposed DREAM Act, and the exclusion of community service as an alternative for youth to consider. As a college student, and as a person who is interest in contributing to my community's betterment, I urge Congressional representatives to reinstate the community service provision. (Photo: Greensboro, NC youth rally for equal education access and for community service option in the DREAM Act – Courtesy of Lori Fernald Khamala).

Growing up, I knew I wanted to be "someone," I often heard from my family that if I wanted to have a better future I had to stay in school, and do my best to be able to go to college. At the age of 13, life circumstances brought me to the United States from Mexico. I thought I could accomplish everything I dreamed of because I was in the United States of America!

In high school I worked hard to adjust to the new culture, to learn the language, and get good grades. I always kept in mind what my family often said "Echándole ganas se sale Adelante.” (Put your energy into it, and you’ll go far!). However, when I started high school I stared hearing people telling me, “Why are you trying so hard? You won’t be able to go to college, you are an immigrant.” Some of my friends became discouraged; many of them dropped out of high school, others married and so on. I felt that I could not give up.

My faith helped me to continue trying and believing in myself. Finally, I met a friend who inspired me to continue with my educational journey. He was a great model and life example. I applied and was accepted at Guilford College. Getting in was not easy, staying has been even more challenging. But I know that at the end I'll be able to look back and see that all the sacrifices, worries, and stress hat come with being a Latina immigrant in college. I am gaining the skills and experience that will help me to serve and help my community.

AFSC wants every student to have the opportunity to further their education, but many will still find great financial and other barriers. While I have always supported the DREAM Act, it is important that community service be part of this proposed legislation.

As it is now written, the DREAM Act will lead many young people to think that military service is the only option that can help them secure permanent residency. However, previous versions of the DREAM Act included a community and volunteerism service component. National service is one way that we can all contribute to our communities.

I see the benefits of the DREAM Act for my friends, my community and for me. Community service means a lot to me because it is part of how we can support and help each other especially when we are far from our country, family and culture. A service component in the DREAM Act will help the development of a strong nation. I urge legislators to support the DREAM Act and to restore the volunteer and service component now. Thank you.”


To learn more about the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (The "DREAM Act") and AFSC's analysis, please contact Sara Ibrahim at

Additional sources: