Two outstanding U.S. immigrant students have been selected as winners of the 2018 Boundless American Dream Scholarship, receiving $1,500 each toward their educational goals.
The Boundless American Dream Scholarship provides financial support to exceptionally promising students who fulfill the requirements of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and who want to make the world a better place through technology.
Students are invited to apply for the 2019 scholarship opportunity!
Students with DACA or TPS are often ineligible for federal student aid programs, limiting their educational opportunities due to financial constraints. The two winners were selected from over 200 qualified applicants, based on their outstanding academic performance, demonstrated ability to overcome obstacles, and plans for the future.
The stories of Hector Sanchez Perez and Jennifer Martinez Sanchez tell of two young American immigrants who defied all odds and worked diligently to earn their shot at an education that would enable them to give back to their communities.
Hector Sanchez Perez is an undocumented graduate student. He plans to become a physician and will use research and medical technology to help Latino immigrants lead a healthy life, regardless of immigration status, age, or income.
Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Hector came to the United States as a young child, along with his parents and two younger siblings. After graduating high school, Hector studied biology at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he discovered his passion for medicine and public health as an undergraduate student. Now in graduate school at Columbia University, he wants to practice medicine in underserved immigrant communities. As Hector explained in his scholarship application when asked what the “American Dream” meant to him:
“Growing up in the Coachella Valley, I was exposed to the many health disparities affecting marginalized communities. Specifically, many Latino immigrant families in my hometown are too afraid to seek a primary care practitioner because of fear of deportation, and not having a health care provider that speaks Spanish who understands the struggles of being undocumented. Therefore, the ‘American Dream’ to me means living in a country where everyone has equal access to healthcare and the opportunity to pursue their lifelong dreams.”
During the Johns Hopkins Graduate Consulting Club’s annual Biotech & Healthcare Case Competition, Hector’s team proposed building partnerships with Kaiser Permanente and 23andMe to establish a new stem-cell banking service that could be subsidized by health insurance. With this service, stem-cell banking could become a form of preventive medicine that would allow families to store stem cells to possibly treat life-threatening illnesses, such as leukemia and heart disease.
When asked for his advice to high school and college students who struggle with similar immigration issues, Hector had this to offer:
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I feel like it’s very difficult for students who are undocumented to really seek support. But there are people out there who are willing to support you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because you never know what kind of resources are out there. Also, find a mentor. They will help you succeed in life.”
Jennifer Martinez Sanchez is a high school student and DACA recipient. She wants to study stem cells and their potential use in cancer treatment. After being denied DACA the first time, Jennifer was motivated to try again after witnessing the determination of her fellow immigrants as she helped them study for their GED tests and fill out forms, including their own immigration applications, through Promise Arizona. As Jennifer explained:
“Just hearing their stories about what they’ve gone through and what they’re still going through helped me persevere. Many were undocumented as well and faced even greater language barriers, yet they were still trying to open their own businesses and get their GEDs. Despite all of the barriers they had and everything they faced they were still moving forward. So I thought, I can’t let some little piece of paper define me or my experience. After that moment I filled out the application again and I received my DACA status. But I realized that with or without it I was still the same person and it wasn’t going to define me or who I would become. It sounds crazy, but I’m glad my DACA application was rejected the first time.”
Jennifer’s work with the resilient people of her community was a daily reminder of a lesson her grandmother had been teaching her all her life:
“Your legal status or situation does not define you or the opportunities that you can achieve. It’s rather the willpower that you have to go beyond and strive for your ancestor’s wildest dreams. If you have the ganas [desire/motivation], that’s what will get you to the point you want to be. And it will help you find yourself and become the person you want to become.”
Boundless is honored to offer these two students financial assistance as part of our ongoing commitment to helping all immigrants achieve their American dreams.
“Jennifer and Hector epitomize the type of grit and spirit that are shared among millions of immigrants in America today,” says Boundless CEO and co-founder Xiao Wang. “We at Boundless are proud to support them in their educational journey and look forward to all of their future accomplishments.”