[This week’s DREAM Act guest post comes from Mei Lau, who is eligible for the DREAM Act and represents the essence of the American DREAM–a high school graduate at the age of 15 who merely wants to attend college in this country. She is undoubtedly and irrevocably an immigrant that America needs and this country should find a way to retain her intellect and services instead of turning her away. Going back to her country of origin to apply for a visa to re-enter will not work in all likelihood so please do not make that suggestion].
My name is Mei Lau, a 15 year-old high school graduate. My brother and I arrived in US following our mother, who was an international student at the time, when I was nine and have been educated here ever since. But right now, I can’t even be considered an international student anymore because mother cannot afford her tuition fee due the harsh economy for the past two years.
We both skipped two grades and entered high school at the age of 12. My IQ was proven and officially tested to be over 150. I maintained a 4.66 GPA in school with 4 AP classes and 2 college computer course, and finished all four years of high school math in my freshmen year. I went on to score a 5, highest score possible, in AP Calculus AB test in my sophomore year. Everyone including my counselor, teachers, friends, family, and myself was absolutely certain that with such a young age and brilliant record, I could get a full scholarship.
Quite a few were offered to me – with the requirement of being a permanent resident or US citizen. I was not. And several schools that accepted me regrettably informed me that they could not provide me with a full scholarship. Even the full scholarship the state university should provide to the students with 3 AIMS exceeded was denied to me because of my status despite the fact I completed my entire high school years here.
The most they could grant to a non-US citizen student like me cannot even cover my tuition that is essential if I wish to attend any college. My mother is a single-parent that had to take care of two kids while barely graduated high school. She was a student herself and had to work all day to cover her own tuition fee and our living expenses. I never saw her taking a break in four years from work other than during national holidays. She never bought anything for herself but still we struggle financially. She cannot possibly cover my college expenses.
I am underage, obviously, and cannot even get a student loan. Most scholarships either have an age or citizenship requirement. I can’t even legally work because I don’t have a social security number. I’m running out of ideas and have yet to find a solution.
I dread what the future may bring. Am I going to be forced to drop my education so young with my level of intelligence just because of where I was born? I lived here nearly as far as I remember. US is my home. I never knew another. Yet, opportunities are all being close to me because of the fact I was not born here. My brother is about to graduate within two years. If the DREAM Act is not passed by then, he is about to face the same dilemma I am facing. I really don’t know what to do right now.
(Photo courtesy DreamAct2009)