Maria’s Story

Being a full-time, working student in America is difficult, especially with the constant social pressure of worrying about what the future holds for your family. Maria Quintanilla, 21, is a student at FSCJ, pursuing a career in dental hygiene. Her parents migrated to America a little over three decades ago from Nicaragua with the hopes of attaining job security and better opportunities for the family they had hoped to start. Their vision for the future changed slightly once they learned of the President-elect back in November 2016. The 2016 election raised the issue of immigration policies in political and public debates with Trump at the forefront. In August, it was announced that the Trump Administration was intending to alter the rules of naturalization in a way that would dramatically decrease the amount of immigrants becoming U.S. citizens. The DHS says that more than 75 percent of immigrants in 2014 have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade, and only 5 percent came to the country over the previous five years. However, with the deportation across the United States, her family couldn’t take any chances. With her father recently attaining his American citizenship in the past few months, her parents became increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of staying in the U.S. “They’re not big fans of the Trump situation and kind of over it. My mom cleans houses and my dad is retired, so they’d both like to retire, and obviously the dollar stretch is more over there than here, so with their savings and my Dad’s social security, they’d want to go to Nicaragua or Mexico or somewhere it would be cheaper to live.” Being that Maria is applying to the program in May, she is now left to figure out how to maneuver living on her own for the first time, but instead of being only hours away from her parents at school, like most young adults, hers will be living out of the country. Her main stressor, she expressed, was figuring out how to balance a full-time program and paying the bills she will have to take over once her parents leave. Another issue she is facing is the unknown: exactly when her parents will leave. Her brother, Miguel, 24, lives on his own not far from the family home. “Once my parents leave, I’m not sure what will happen. We all depend on them in different ways. Obviously they’re my parents and I love them, but the financial situation will definitely change a lot, too. I might move back with Maria, and that way we can split the bills. I’m not in school right now and she will be full-time. It only seems fair.” As for now, Maria is working as much as possible, having taken the summer and fall off to do so in preparation for when the program starts. She plans to be the first member of her family to graduate with her degree.

IMG_2969Audio Interview

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