As a top 10 student in her high school with a 4.0 GPA, 18-year old Jena graduated with honors and dreams of becoming a nurse. With her sights set on higher education, she found herself passing up many opportunities for college scholarships due to her immigration status.
“Unfortunately, the pathway to nursing can be expensive, and without “papers,” I am unable to work or receive financial aid,” Jena told her Director of Social Services Maira at her affordable housing community in Woodlake, California.
Dreams of a better life
Jena’s mother brought her to the U.S. when she was six months old in hopes of giving her daughter a better life. Her mother faced many challenges, and Jena eventually moved in with her grandfather, who raised her and provided support and guidance throughout her childhood and teenage years.
“Now that I’ve graduated high school, there is nothing more that I wish to accomplish than getting my education in the medical field and becoming a nurse,” said Jena.
Maira sat down with Jena and together they made a plan to make Jena’s dream come true. Maira contacted a lawyer familiar with LifeSTEPS who agreed to work on her case. After a consultation at no cost to Jena, the lawyer confirmed that Jena qualifies for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). With critical financial assistance from LifeSTEPS, Jena will now apply for DACA status.
“Through DACA, Jena will obtain a legal social security number which will enable her to work and become financially independent, and also apply for financial aid and scholarships for college. This will open many doors and provide opportunities to help Jena achieve her goals and be self-sufficient,” said Maira.
Jena plans to give back by volunteering time at her local library and at future LifeSTEPS events.
Jena is known for being kind and loving to her neighbors and their children, and we’re thrilled that she plans to volunteer in LifeSTEPS’ after-school programs.
“I’m so thankful,” said Jena. “I can now pursue my dreams for a rewarding and successful life and career.”