Maria E. Dominguez

Maria E. DominguezLife was beautiful in the small town of Comonfort in Guanajuato, Mexico. I lived with my mother, paternal grandmother, younger sister, older brother and baby brother. We lived in a modest house but we were happy to live with our grandmother, who was like a second mother to us. My father had migrated to the United States; he lived and worked in Dallas. He would come to visit us once every three years and my mother, who was and still is a brave and hard working woman, worked cleaning houses and selling food. One morning, my mother received a call from my uncle Daniel, who told her my father had died in an automobile accident. She was now alone to raise four children.

My mother migrated to the United States in order to claim Social Security benefits for us. A few months later, my oldest brother, sister and I were forced to move to Austin. I remember crying every day for more than a month; I missed my grandma and my life in Mexico. My mother would comfort us by saying that we would go back very soon. But I soon entered fourth grade, not speaking or understanding English. My mother would work two jobs and my oldest brother, Hugo, would watch us while my mother was at work. I moved on to middle school and in seventh grade, I left the bilingual classroom to be in all English classes.

In high school I was involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities, including soccer, tennis, mariachi group and Air Force ROTC. I graduated with honors, being number five in my class, but now the question was, what was I going to do after high school? Going straight to a university was expensive, and even though I had received  scholarships, I felt I did not have the resources to attend a prestigious university. I decided to apply to Austin Community College, where I took my basic courses.

While attending college, I worked as a cashier at a restaurant in order to pay for college, and during the summers I would work two jobs. Paying resident tuition allowed me to receive some financial aid, which also helped me graduate without having to obtain a loan. When I was ready to transfer to a four-year university, I made a definite decision that would change my life: I would become a bilingual teacher. I received my bachelor's degree from Texas State University in bilingual education in December 2007.

Since I would not be able to teach at public school, I began to teach Sunday school at my church because I knew it would give me an opportunity to teach children. On the other hand, I did not feel complete. I felt I needed to learn more and educate myself to better serve children. I entered the master's program at Texas State University and graduated in May 2012 with a degree in bilingual education and minor in educational leadership.

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, which would grant certain undocumented immigrants a two-year work permit and an exemption from deportation. I was excited and thankful because I would have the opportunity to practice my profession. I applied for DACA in August 2012 and received my approval in December 2012.

I have been an Education Austin member for more than two years, since I was hired by the Austin Independent School District as a bilingual teacher. I am grateful to be part of great union of leaders that continuously advocates not only for teachers but also for our community. Through Education Austin I have participated in DACA forums and citizenship drives, and I have attended trainings in other states and done presentations on the work that Education Austin is doing to help and inform our immigrant community.

DACA has absolutely changed my life. Thanks to DACA, I accomplished one of my dreams, to begin working at a public school as a bilingual teacher and to give back to the community that helped grow to be the person I am now. I was also able to obtain a Texas driver's license. I feel very fortunate to be DACAmented because thanks to this immigration policy, I also had the opportunity to travel back to my hometown in Mexico after over 20 years of living in the United States.