Pratishtha Khanna

Pratishtha KhannaMy name is Pratishtha Khanna, and I am one of the millions of undocumented citizens in this country. I migrated from the land of temples and colorful festivals, India, in 2002 with a valid tourist visa. Due to rapid changes in technological advances and change to big names such as Apple, Microsoft and IBM from small technological businesses, my father quickly realized that maintaining a comfortable lifestyle for his growing family was unattainable in India. He decided to move to the United States.

I still remember being mesmerized by Interstate 95 as my family exited to Laurel, Md. My early memories of America consist of joyful bus rides to middle school, constantly widening my eyes in blissful surprises as I assimilated to a completely different culture at school, meticulously organizing my school binder, and playing in eight feet of snow during the blizzard of 2003—my first encounter with snow. Today, I continue to live in Maryland with my parents and younger brother in Ellicott City.

DACA is a simple acronym for a life-changing event, an executive action that served to change half a million lives. I had just finished my junior year in college and venturing into my senior year was difficult and uncertain, as I bore the burdens of finding a job, continuing higher education, and progressing in all aspects of my personal, professional and academic life. But how do these mundane, typical social aspects apply to a young adult who has no "legal" existence in this country? How can someone obtain a job, share the tax burden and give back to the community when they do not exist on paper, when they are "illegal"?

DACA has helped me overcome these questions. By granting me a Social Security number, work authorization and legal presence, DACA has been the path from an uncertain life to a life that is maximizing my potential.

Since graduating with my bachelor's degree in biology in May 2014 from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, I have lived a full life. I have had life experiences that would have been otherwise unattainable without DACA. I currently work part time as a medical scribe in the emergency room and as a full-time clinical technician in the intensive care unit. With relentlessness, I have continued to educate myself with work training, noncredit classes and an currently working two jobs while applying to graduate schools to further my interest and education in public health, with the hopes of attending medical school.

I hope to one day be accepted by those whom I aspire to make proud, the community of friends, educators, and academic advisors; responsible and open hearted citizens who have always provided me strength and support.

Undocumented, unafraid, unapologetic.