By Gaby Pacheco
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful 19-year-old Salvadorian woman, fighting for the DREAM Act. At first, I thought she was a DREAMer, but on the contrary, Jocelyne Cardona, is a US Citizen, born to immigrant parents.
“I am a Latina student at Macalester College in Minnesota, who has worked hard to live a life that will grant me the most opportunities in order to guarantee that my family and myself have a better future in this country. My parents are from El Salvador and immigrated to the United States in hopes to live the American Dream.” she writes to me in an e-mail.
Jocelyne’s passion to share the American DREAM with others has led her to be Co-Chair of Adelante! and SPEAK, both organizations on campus that are working together for the passage of the DREAM Act. This year, Adelante! launched the Dare to DREAM Campaign.
Part of the Dare to DREAM Campaign’s mission is to bring awareness of the DREAM Act to students on campus and push Macalester to become a DREAMer-friendly college. So far, Jocelyne and the group Adelante! have obtained their college President, Dr. Rosenberg’s, approval and now, after a presentation made to the Social Responsibility Committee, they are waiting to hear if Macalester, as an institution, will also support the DREAM Act.
This first-generation Latina has been able to climb the ladder of success, but unlike many, she hasn’t forgotten her roots and the difficulties her family faced as they fled El Salvador from its civil war.
In 1980, El Salvador had a civil war where the government’s military and a guerilla group, know as FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front) fought for two years resulting in more than 75,000 deaths. Jocelyne’s mother fled her country and headed north to the United State. Once in California, she met her husband, Jocelyne’s father.
Jocelyne is trying to ensure that others have the opportunities to dream through the passage of the DREAM Act. “In the future we would like to see a fund created for undocumented students to aid them financially and to mobilize other campuses in MN in doing the same work.” she adds.
“I am the eldest and the first to go to college,” says Jocelyne.
The opportunities she is creating for herself will be felt beyond her family and will grow for generations to come.
Gaby Pacheco, editor of Latina Lista’s “American Dream” section, is an undocumented American and an immigrant rights leader from Miami, Florida. Since 2004 she has been working on the DREAM Act. Her passion for education and immigrant rights prompted her and three friends in 2010 to walked 1,500 miles form Miami to Washington DC, to bring to light the plight of immigrants in this country, this walk was dubbed the Trail of DREAMs.