What This School Year, Full of Fears, Has Taught Me as an Undocumented Student

Earlier this year my school’s newspaper published a story about a 19-year-old undocumented student and his 55-mile ride via train to Miami Dade College, all in hopes of obtaining an education. An education that could have never been possible if it was not for the hard work of his parents and the unconditional support of his community.

That story was about me, a slight highlight of my life. Ever since that story came out, so did my fears. My fears of failure, fears of disappointing an entire community and not deserving any of the opportunities offered to me. Navigating the educational system has been tough for me, for I have never been an exemplary student worthy of honors and recognition.


I first understood what it truly meant to be undocumented when I was denied participation in my high school’s soccer team due to my lack of documentation. The head coach told me it was better if I just stayed away from sports, because students like myself weren’t allowed to play. That was the first time one of my dreams would be burnt to ashes. Graduating high school was a real challenge: dealing with depression, procrastination, underrepresentation in the classrooms and the achievement gap being more real than ever.

When the majority of my friends were getting ready to travel to their new schools, I was home trying to get out of a depressive cycle that had kept me in the shadows for many years.

Earlier this year I was accepted to Miami Dade College, 55 miles south of my home city. Earlier this year, “Brayan Takes The Train” was published. In it, I showed the world that anything was possible.

However, what I didn’t mentioned were the hardships of being undocumented and attending college. Even with all the school’s support, the many examples of success, and the picture of my parents breaking their backs so that I can have an education could not prevent me from falling into depression.

It has been more than six months since Brayan, the kid from the story, caught up up with his internal demons, with the fears of failure, with the unaccomplished goals and with his own soul.

I understand that everyone has their own struggle, their own doubts and their own personal desires or things they wish could be different. The following list is just small part of the many things one can do to survive through daily struggles:

  • One needs mentors, people who are willing to fight along side with you. Having mentors for the different aspects in your life can be very beneficial.
  • If available to you, mental counseling by a professional can be crucial. It’s a big step and it requires a lot from your part but the benefits can be really satisfying.
  • This world is not the best—our struggles can take out the best in us. So, many times it’s good to just be alone and think about your inner soul and its health.
  • If you are a college student, speak to administrators (if you feel comfortable) about your situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there might be resources available to you that maybe you didn’t know.
  • Integrate yourself in safe social circles. Be aware about the people in them and make sure that you feel comfortable being in those spaces.
  • Practice some type of mediation. There are many relaxing exercises out there.
  • Do things with love. Let love be the reason you keep walking in this struggle.

I truly hope that this list can serve you all in one way or another. Being undocumented and attending college can be really hard. I am still struggling with many aspects of my life, but I am hopeful that the hard work of my parents, grandparents and everyone else who has walked along with me up to this day can one day be compensated. They are truly the reason why I am breathing today.

May this piece resonate among you all.

“Soy el más lento de mi familia, no soy brillante. Lucho por la educación y nunca fui buen estudiante”. ~ Calle 13


You can follow Brayan on Twitter @BrayanEducate.

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