One of the biggest gifts a child can give to a parent is the gift of hard work. It’s an even bigger accomplishment when the hard work comes through sacrifice and incredible odds. Camila Ozores Silva from Florida did just that recently when she walked across the stage to receive her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa. The DACA recipient worked long hours while working full time proving that her hard work and her parents’ sacrifices were worth it.
Camila Ozores Silva recently got her bachelor’s degree after overcoming tough obstacles.
Undocumented. Immigrant. Latina. Queer. Woman. Low income. First-gen. Anxiety. All these salient identities and labels used to be barriers that I thought for sure would keep me from reaching my goals. All of these were reasons society told me I would not be as successful as my peers. College graduate. This identity would not have been possible without the fuel of my marginalized identities. The multiple systemic and overt obstacles in my way only served as even more reasons why I needed to achieve my dreams. This diploma I’m about to receive is a privilege and an honor and it’s a testimony to the hard work of my parents and mentors, not just myself. This one is for my family and for the millions of other folks who hold my same identities that can’t quite yet strive for their dreams. Tomorrow will forever be the day that I reclaimed my narrative and proved myself wrong. Yo soy fuerte, yo soy capaz, yo soy invincible, yo soy mujer. ???? #undocugrad #latinasinhighered #werk #immigrad #undocugrads #latinxgrads ?: @josejacobphotography
The 21-year-old received a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa, and tweeted how she not only accomplished her dreams but was able to do that thanks to her father.
In a tweet that has now gone viral, Ozores Silva writes what it was like to be undocumented and still get college degree.
When my school discovered I was undocumented, my scholarship & in-state tuition were taken away. I told my papi that I was going to drop out & work instead. My papi told me he’d cut his arm off before I dropped out. We made it work. Today I graduated & he’s why. #undocugrad pic.twitter.com/RwDuOe5xaF
— camila ? (@camilaronipizza) May 5, 2018
Ozores Silva found out she was undocumented as a teen and her life flipped upside down. She writes that despite facing an enormous amount of pressure because she was undocumented, her father encouraged her that they would endure the challenge together.
“I realized then that my education was no longer just mine,” Ozores Silva writes in her blog. “This was for my parents, immigrants to a country that tries and strips them of their culture and rejects them in so many ways. This was for my brother, a year behind me in school and someone I hoped to inspire to always strive for something more.”
In an interview with mitu, Ozores Silva discusses how she persevered through working 30 hours a week on top of a full class load.
“I realized early on that this was never going to be easy with the systemic and institutional barriers placed against me and my community, Ozores Silva says. “Understanding that I needed to want this more than anything and be willing to fight for it helped me succeed.”
Ozores Silva encourages other Dreamers not to give up their fight for an education.
With so many Dreamers hanging in the balance of what the government will do to their DACA status, Ozores Silva shares words of wisdom:
“If you feel discouraged, let it come and feel it but don’t let it keep you down because education is a right that we all deserve and if you work hard enough, I believe you can achieve it,” Ozores Silva says. “Also, you might have to let go of the perfect dream. Sometimes financial setbacks are the ones most out of control, especially without the privilege of DACA and work authorization. However this doesn’t mean you need to quit, but this might mean you need to modify your dream by taking less classes at a time, going to community college, and/or graduating late. All of that is okay because it’s not about how long it takes you but it’s about you getting there.”
Ozores Silva also received some hateful comments regarding her undocumented status. To those people, she says “have empathy.”
Dear ppl in my mentions: y’all can be ignorant, tag ICE or call me racial slurs but rn im sitting in the sun, about to go into my job that I love & do work to help the undocu community/allies at USF.
“I survived because the fire within me burned brighter than the fire around me.” pic.twitter.com/B3sCYSRize
— camila ? (@camilaronipizza) May 7, 2018
“I’d like to tell those with hateful mindsets about my community to have empathy and hear out the real human beings affected by the terrible narratives being spewed about us,” Ozores Silva says. “I would also tell my fellow undocumented/DACA folks to have hope and to know that even if they’re not protesting in the streets or out of the shadows, their mere existence and taking up space is resistance.”
Now that Ozores Silva is done with college, she will soon be headed to Colorado State University where she will seek a masters in Student Affairs.
“I’m super excited to take my activism to a new state and continue learning as I believe education has saved my life.”