Dreamer Scholar Spotlight: Evelin Villa

Evelin Villa is a Dreamer Scholar who graduated from high school last year and is currently a freshman at UC Berkeley. Barboza writes about her experience as a Dreamer and how IHADLA helped her through it:

“The land of opportunity.” What is it? Who gets to be part of it? The land of opportunity is only a dream, a theory thrown into the air to see if someday Dreamers like myself will be able to catch it; when there are many others whom it is easily handed to.

Fortunately enough, I was one of those Dreamers that was able to catch the tail of that theory before it was too late when I was in the 7th grade. Migrating to the United States, every single day no matter how much time I spent in the closet at night learning English at the age of six, it did not seem to be enough; I was still being told if I do continue school, High School was going to be it. Moreover, if for some “odd” reason or another I do continue on to college, community college was going to be it. No matter what there always seemed to be restrictions. Who would have thought that an underrepresented girl that became the bridge between her family and the United States, trying her hardest to survive, putting a lot of responsibilities on her shoulders at the age of six, leaving her childhood behind to try and comfort her family into the transition between the Mexican and American world; would end up in one of the highest ranked Public Universities in the world. Mexico stopped being her home at the age of six, Los Angeles stopped being her home at the age of 8, Inglewood stopped being her home at the age of 18, now her new home for at least the next four years will be at the University of California, Berkeley.

The chills her parents get when proudly announcing that their eldest daughter is attending a university, without really having an understanding of what privileges being a UC Berkeley parent embodies are; they are just proud she overcame all the odds in a society that is not welcoming of hers. Like any other migrant family in the United States, university finances is worrisome, but in gratitude to scholarships and outreach, I can proudly announce I am attending UC Berkeley with a full ride.

All of these small accomplishments would not have been possible without the daily support the “I Have A Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles as a whole invested in me. Through daily struggles and doubts, IHADLA stood by my side through everything until I overcame those obstacles. Guiding me to different sources of financial support I could apply to, giving me workforce experience, and even boosting my self-confidence in being able to talk to a police officer face to face without being afraid, by learning how to use my words for the better.

The main event that I immensely enjoyed was a dinner that was hosted inside an IHADLA Board member’s home, where there were many successful professionals with their own companies and organizations, looking to socialize and network. That night I remember going home feeling proud of myself, but I was most happy seeing how happy my parents looked in seeing what my story, my socialization can do; that was the first time I felt and saw how proud they were of me. Multiple individuals with engineering-based organizations and companies had come up to me offering me a position as in intern in their companies; there were even some that were trying to recruit me for their Robotics team at their prestigious universities.

Those are the types of opportunities that would not have been so easily accessible without the “I Have A Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles by my side. I was given the opportunity to be a Doer, not just a Dreamer. The “land of opportunity” became the “land of my success.”