Fabiola Fabian remembers the moment with razor sharp clarity. Standing behind her front door, out of sight, but still able to hear the thoughtless comment from her neighbor as she spoke to Fabiola’s mom, “Your daughter might as well not work so hard to get good grades, she’ll just end up working at McDonald’s anyway.” This cruel comment frightened Fabiola. As an undocumented child without legal status, she began to doubt if her dream to graduate college and become a registered nurse was really something she could achieve.
For a brief time, Fabiola let her neighbor’s insensitive words derail her academic efforts. Fabiola didn’t work quite so hard; she no longer pushed herself in her studies to get top scores. Her mother knew something was wrong. She knew her daughter had always had a strong desire to go to college and normally gave her best effort to everything she tried. So Fabiola’s mother reassured her that she could accomplish anything Fabiola set out to achieve. She told her not to let the short-sighted expectations of others write her future. Fabiola says, “After that, I used my neighbor’s heartless comment as motivation to work even harder.”
Unfortunately, hard work was not enough to secure her college dream. Fabiola found that her legal status as an undocumented resident made it more difficult to navigate the system of college admissions and financial aid. Her high school guidance counselor was at a loss to know how to help her.
Left alone to figure it out, Fabiola discovered CSU Northridge was a college that honored the California education code known as AB540. This code grants undocumented students who have attended at least three years of high school in California and who have graduated from high school, the option to pay in-state tuition, as opposed to higher out-of-state tution fees. CSU Northridge also helped Fabiola secure her status as a DREAM act student which brought Fabiola relief and renewed hope for her academic future.
Additionally, Fabiola discovered a huge resource in the affordable housing community where she lived with her parents and siblings. Fabiola embraced the opportunity to apply for AMCAL’s Partnership for HOPE scholarship program every semester she attended and this financial support made the difference between success and defeat in reaching her goal. Over the course of her college years Fabiola was awarded a total of $14,570 as a recipient of the Partnership for HOPE Fund.
Fabiola is no longer frightened of what her future will hold. This last May, Fabiola walked across the stage to accept her college degree–a BS in Public Health. Now with her college degree in hand, she is one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a registered nurse. Soon she plans to enroll in UCLA’s nursing program and eventually apply for a Master’s degree in Public Health. Her current success continues to fuel her desire to reach for more. Fabiola shared this hashtag to encourage others who are just like her: #undocumentedandunafraid.
Editor’s note: Fabiola credits the role her parents have played in her life in shaping her determination to achieve her dreams. She has watched both of her parents work extremely hard and watched them struggle to provide for her and her siblings. They instilled in their daughter the value of education in determining one’s future. Fabiola looks forward to the day when she is self-sufficient and can help support her parents and serve her community in gratitude for all she has been given.