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Undocumented & Unstoppable: One Teacher's Journey

Meet Maria Sandoval, a dedicated middle school math teacher whose resilience in the face of life's challenges inspires her students every day. Discover how Maria's personal journey as a DACA recipient has equipped her with unique insights and a special ability to motivate her students to see limitless possibilities for their own futures. Explore the emotional and practical hurdles Maria overcame, and learn why she believes that one step at a time can make the seemingly impossible, possible.


Undocumented & Unstoppable: One Teacher's Journey

"I am a DACA recipient, but before I was a DACA recipient, I was an immigrant. I immigrated here with my parents when I was a baby. So, I didn't know I was undocumented until I was in high school, when I wanted to get a job as a math tutor because I loved math. When I went home and asked my parents, "Hey, can you help me fill out this job application? I need my social security number," they broke it down to me and said, "Oh, you don't have one; we're undocumented." My world kind of shattered because ever since I was small, I wanted to be a math teacher. I wanted to help students. My teachers made me feel so accomplished, so I wanted to do the same for students.

My dream was shattered because my parents told me, "Hey, you're undocumented. You can't work in the United States. You actually can't even be in the United States." I was heartbroken, and I was very upset for a long time. My parents said, "Hey, if you try your best in school, we will figure out how to get you to college, and if you can't work in the US, you can be a teacher in any part of the world." I said, okay. I tried my best in high school. My senior year, I took two math classes because I loved math so much. I got some scholarships because I ended up trying my best, and I didn't give up even though I knew that at that moment, I wasn't going to be able to work as a teacher. I was able to get scholarships, so I went to community college. Those scholarships paid for community college. At this point, even if I graduated, I still couldn't get a job, but I kept going.

Then in community college, I transferred to a university. That summer, DACA was announced, and DACA was something that, if you came here as a child, you have permission to work. I was so happy because that gave me hope to achieve my dream. So I continued through college and was able to work and pay for college. My dream was closer, and I graduated from college. I got my math degree, I got my credential, and then finally, I was able to become a teacher.

I always tell students this story because when I started, I actually knew that I might not be able to get to my goal, but I kept going. In the middle of that, my goal became possible, and I just continued the path and was able to get to my dream of being a math teacher. So, I tell them that story and share with them, if you have a dream, even if it seems impossible, do one step at a time, and you can get there eventually."

-Maria Sandoval


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