At Define American, we are celebrating students, parents, families, and all of the people in our lives that make up each student’s #ImmiGrad journey.
I graduated from American University in 2015 as a proud #ImmiGrad with a lot of debt. Before transferring to American University, my studies had started at Miami Dade College. Miami was my hometown but I was required to pay the international student tuition because I was undocumented.
My college debt was not just financial, though. I was also indebted to my family. My father received a degree in Chemistry in Argentina, but he gave up his career so that my sister and I could have greater opportunities in the U.S. On my graduation day, the celebration honored my own triumphs as well as my parents’ sacrifices.
Often the stories that garner the greatest media attention are those of the highest achieving immigrants — the valedictorians, the ones who have the highest honors, graduated from the Ivy Leagues, and are the perfect image of a “good immigrant.” There are many #ImmiGrads who don’t feel like they’re living up to the impossibly high standards our society puts on immigrants. We are told we need to be ten times better than everyone else to prove that we belong here. We are told going to college is not enough; we need to get into the best colleges. Doing well in class is not enough; we need to get straight A’s. Going to class and working a job is not enough; we need to be the president of an important student organization. Graduating is not enough; we need to be ladened with regalia and honors.
That is the burden of the “good immigrant” myth perpetuated by the media and ingrained in us. We, at Define American, are breaking that cycle. We want to share stories of all kinds of students. Everyone’s story deserves to be told. There are so many families to celebrate.
On graduation day, we are acknowledging families — their determination, their struggles, and their journeys. Congratulations to ALL #ImmiGrads in the class of 2017!