Hello, my name is Juan Prezas. I am 23 years old and I have been living in North Carolina since I was 9 years old. When my family first moved to North Carolina, I thought everything would change for the better, but it was easier said than done. Learning a new language and trying to fit in was not easy, but I stepped up to the plate.
Throughout my middle school and high school years, my parents always encouraged me to be the best student I could be. I worked hard. But when I graduated from high school, my future was uncertain. My family’s financial situation was unstable, so to help contribute to the household, I opted to work and put my education second. I had to save enough money to attend my local community college. But when I tried to enroll, I was met by bad news: undocumented students were not allowed to attend community colleges or universities without a social security number.
After finding out that I could not go back to school, I worked for another year. All I could do was try to get my mind off my situation, I felt hopeless. I was stuck in a minimum wage job with no possibilities of going to college. I was banned.
It was until 2011 when I returned to my Vance Granville Community College to try to enroll in classes. That year I was allowed to register for classes, but I had to pay out-of-state tuition. The tuition for out-of-state students was and remains nearly four times the in-state tuition cost. When I heard the amount of money that I had to pay to go back to school, I was unsure if going back to school was the right thing to do. The more I though about it, I became convinced that I was unhappy with my job that only paid minimum wage. So, out-of-state tuition and all, I decided to go back to college.
My first semester at my local community college, I paid about 1,900 dollars and my tuition steadily increased as I took more classes each semester. Graduation seems like something out of my reach if I have to continue paying out-of-state tuition. My dream of becoming an engineer has already been deferred. The damage has already been done. But that can change if Attorney General Cooper supports me. The federal government has already allowed me to legally work here and I have a social security number through the DACA program. So, why keep me from attending college and contributing to my state?
On Saturday, January 11th, 2014, I will be joining four other DACA students like me. We will march from UNC Chapel Hill to Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office. Every day he refuses to support students like me, he is killing our futures. The March of Broken Dreams will culminate with a funeral outside of his office. I hope you can be there. But if you can’t, sign and share the petition calling on Attorney General Cooper, the UNC Board of Governors, and the NC Community College System to give DACA students in-state tuition now. Here it is: http://action.dreamactivist.org/northcarolina/instate.
Thank you for your support.