“My American Dream” by Gabriella Ramirez C’23

I was always taught by my parents, immigrants from Latin America, to pursue the American Dream: study hard, go to college, and find a successful career. So far, it seems that this has been the route I have been taking. My Latina identity has become a core part of who I am and where I aspire to be. I’ve been able to attain my higher education at Drew University with hopes of one day being able to give back to communities like mine.  I want to use the privileges I have to help other Latinos, first generation college students, and low income families achieve their American Dream.

When I first arrived at Drew, I was struggling to transition into my new environment. Part of this was because I am a first generation college student, and was not sure about how to go about this college experience. I did not have a support system in place to guide me. This was made all the more difficult by the fact that I would walk around campus and not see anyone who looked like me, nor did I meet anyone who came from similar backgrounds or identities. I found myself feeling isolated in this new place I was supposed to call home. Feeling the way I did, I did not want other students to bear the same struggles. This motivated me to create two new clubs: BIPOC Peer Mentoring Program and DrewFIRST Generation College Student Organization. In addition to this, I created a Student Lending Library for need-based students. Each of these initiatives connect to my intersecting identities as a Latina, first generation college student, and someone coming from a low income household. The leadership roles I took on with these projects paved a way for me to have a larger platform to share with the Drew community about why it is important to create resources like these for historically underrepresented groups.

These experiences inspired me to pursue a career in Political Science. I chose this route because I want to gain an understanding of government and public policy, so that I can advocate for the communities I come from. Recent classes I have taken such as “Latino Politics” and “Refugees and Migrants” allowed me to reflect on my Latina identity and helped me understand how Latinos play a critical role in the US economy and political sphere. For my recent internship with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), I worked with attorneys to prepare case material for asylum seeking youths from Central America. Being born in the US and having the privilege to attend a four-year institution and learn about the issues communities abroad are facing, I learned to value the opportunities I have been given and want to utilize these tools to advocate for my community. I want to change the perception that these groups of people have brought these struggles upon themselves, when in reality they are victims of a system that was not designed to fight for them.

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