Miriam Gonzalez has had to fight to be a teacher.
Today she works at Crown Prep Academy, a K-12 charter school in Los Angeles, but her path there was anything but easy. She found out she was undocumented after telling her parents she wanted to get a summer job in seventh grade. They told her she couldn't legally work in the U.S. and that she shouldn't tell anyone.
In high school people, told her she probably wouldn’t be able to go to college. But she really wanted to go, so she decided to take a risk and tell her secret to a teacher she trusted.
"She just always seemed to care, I told her I was undocumented and she ended up confessing to me that at some point she was also undocumented and she was able to legalize her status when she was in college," says Gonzalez. "So for me, I was like 'Wow!' I found someone who kinda shared my similar experience, but she’s now a teacher giving back."
How has being a DACA recipient affected the way you relate to your own students, because you’ve been on both sides of this now?
Yeah, so now on the teacher side, and as a middle school teacher (which is when I found out I was undocumented) I’m pretty sure I might have some students that are undocumented. I know of two that are [undocumented] who trusted me with their status, but I know a lot of them are afraid because of everything that’s happening. And I know a lot of them share the fear of their parents. And I feel like, now having me in the classroom to be that person like ‘I know kinda what you’re going through, I’m here to help you, whatever you need just let me know. If your parents want someone to talk to you can send them to me.’
How did your students react when you told them you are a DACA recipient?
They kinda don’t really understand what that means, but I did have a student, after they announced the rescinding of DACA, who asked, "Miss, are you afraid to be deported?" And I told him, "No, I’m not afraid of being deported because I’m not going to be deported; cause I’m gonna fight with whatever I have to stay here with you guys." And right there I could see they were like ‘Oh miss, you’re so strong.’ And that’s the message that I want my kids to see: to not to be afraid, to battle with whatever they have, for whatever they believe.’