Imagine being ready to go to college. You have your dorm and roommate picked out. You even took your ID picture. Then you find out you can't go to school because your FAFSA didn't come through. That happened to me when I was 18. Right before I started college I found out that even though I moved to New Orleans from Mexico at age 3, it was on a work visa and I don't qualify for federal aid. I would have either had to marry someone or apply for permanent residency, but I couldn't do that in time to start school in the fall.

I didn't understand what was wrong. I went to public school. I graduated. I even have a driver's license. I wouldn't have ever imagined this could happen. I fell into a depression because I was really keeping it all to myself and I would just sit in my room thinking about not being able to attend college. Like, what am I supposed to do?

I wouldn’t have ever imagined this could happen.

The first thing I did was talk to my mother. I also spoke to my counselor at school and she started researching scholarships, but it was too late for me to apply. So my counselor and a mentor I have recommended I just go to community college for a semester while I sort everything out. So I went to Delgado and spoke to another counselor that helped me to set up the classes I wanted to take. My mentor has really been there for me ever since, and my counselor even helped me pay for my first semester.

It took me weeks to reboot myself and get back to who I used to be. I just had to get to work hard in order to get what I want and I kinda put myself back together. I started going out and spending time with friends to distract myself. I also like running - it helps me a lot. It keeps me from thinking about my problems.

You never know who could help you out and contribute to you.

I'm still working on everything now because I really want to move out of town for college and in order to do that I need financial aid or scholarships. But I feel like I've passed the stress already and I'll be in college where I want to be next year. The whole process actually made me more mature. I wish when I was in high school I would have known more people that could have helped me out, even though I wasn't aware of my situation then. I wish there were navigators that could orient you in high school and provide a way for students to be made aware of potential immigration issues. That way you could get on a path for the correct status with enough time to decide if you want to go to college, or a technical career, or just start working.