M-LunaAt the age of four my brother and I came to the United States to join my parents, who had arrived about two years prior. I don’t recall much about my journey aside from eating tuna fish with crackers under a tent in the middle of the desert. My family was reunited and we settled in Brooklyn, New York. At five I started public school, where it was hard for me to make friends because of my developing English language skills. I eventually went on to middle school and then FDR High School. While at high school I was able to make friends and meet many great teachers who until this day continue to help me. However, as I approached graduation I realized there was one important thing that separated me from all my friends: as a childhood arrival from a foreign country I was undocumented, and thus ineligible for Financial Aid to attend college. One night I sat with my father and cried. I told him that I was upset that college would have to remain a dream. On that same night he told me that he would find a way to pay for me to start taking some classes. I enrolled at Kingsborough for two classes, and became the very first person in my family to ever go to college.

During that first semester my father had a hard time paying for both bills and my college tuition. While on campus I got the chance to meet great people who were eager to help me achieve my dreams. Kingsborough’s New Americans Center attorney, Therese McNulty, helped me apply for DACA status, and within three months I was finally able to work. It hurt me to see my father struggle, and for months I tried hard to get a job. One day I went to Kingsborough’s Honors office and spoke with Jane Birzin, an Honors counselor. I told her that this would be my last semester until I was able to save up enough money to come back again. She introduced me to TheDream.US scholarship, and sent me to Robert Schacter, the scholarship’s Faculty Representative on campus. He helped me every step of the way until the day that I was APPROVED! Since then this scholarship has helped me in a number of ways: I started to attend Kingsborough full time, and my parents were able to provide for our family without worrying about choosing between my education and paying our bills. The scholarship has not just helped me financially, but it has also made me feel like I am part of a community of students whose dreams are being realized. TheDream.US Scholarship has given me the comfort of knowing that there are many people, in my school and throughout the country, who care about my future and are invested in my success.

Manuel Luna
Kingsborough Community College

TheDream.US Recipient