I immigrated to the U.S when I was nine years old. My father came here before us two years prior, and we came to join him and like all immigrants, for a better life. Life here was to me very easy to adjust; as soon as I stepped into my Massachusetts I feel in love with the place— the apartment I lived in, my school, my teachers etc. With that after the first day of school, my father told me in a very serious voice, “You can’t tell anyone we’re illegal, because we might be deported”. He explained to me what “Illegal” was and I understood it very well. I learned english pretty quickly. I’d say 8 months to 1 year. I got out of my E.L.L program ( english language learners) in less than 2 years, excelled in schools by getting constant A’s and B’s. Eight years have passed, I’m now 17 and I’m a junior at Marlborough High school. I knew about the DREAM ACT for a very long time but I’ve only been in SIM for the past 3 to 4 months. In this short time I have spoken at rallies and vigils, have traveled to Maine and Connecticut. I also met others who helped me with interviews as well. Recently I said something that still rings in my head: “we should never give up, we should never rest until we are longer undocumented Americans.” Its the only country we’ve known and it has been my home for a very long and I love it, I’ve worked so hard to where I am today. I’m in honors, acapella and wrestling. I listen to American music, play American sports, all my friends are American, and the DREAM ACT is the most humane bill out there its morally right and its right for this country.
Meet Our Leaders
The reason why it is important to be a SIM leader is because, as immigrant students, success is denied to us every day. College is unaffordable without documents and jobs are even harder to get. The importance of this lays in the power of people coming together. If we do not take responsibility for our own lives no one will do it for us. Getting involved with SIM is about leadership, responsibility, and writing our own chapter in the history book that is the United States.
The qualities that we look for in our leaders and also that they develop are responsibility, persistence and desire to win. Being able to combine these qualities with the skill training that we offer (Relational building, Strategy, Public narrative and Team building among others) is what makes us a sustainable organization and more importantly it allows us to make meaningful change for our communities.
Vinicius “Vinny” Quirino first got involved with SIM in January 2011 to fight for a chance to stay in the US with the Education Not Deportation (END) campaign. Through his work on END, Vinny developed skills in public speaking, outreach, and community organizing. After attending a regional training in July of that same year, Vinny realized that he could use his talents and energy not only to fight for his own case, but to benefit the immigrant community as a whole. Since then, he’s taken on more leadership roles within SIM and most recently became a Core Leader.
Vinny moved to the US from Brazil in 2003 as a teenager to reunite with his mother. After graduating from East Boston High School in 2005, Vinny tried to join the Air Force but was denied due to his lack of proper immigration status. He was only a semester away from graduating in Physics/Engineering at Bunker Hill Community College when he was detained by Border Patrol agents on an Amtrak train and put into deportation proceedings. Vinny hopes to stay in the US to finish his studies and pursue a career in Engineering.
According to Vinny, SIM is an important resource for students because it teaches youth about leadership and that, with hard work, they can accomplish great things for themselves and for the community. Before joining SIM, Vinny says that he was often afraid to tell people he was undocumented. But now, he is no longer afraid. Through SIM, he has learned that if we all unite as a community, spread the word, and speak our minds, together we can make big changes.
My name is Gladys and I’m a member of the Student Immigrant Movement. I came to the United States when I was 12 years old and I’m currently 20 years old. Like my parents I came here without having the proper documentation to enter the U.S. However, the main reason why I came here was because I wanted to see my parents who had to emigrate to the U.S from Mexico the year before because they wanted to offer me, my brother and sisters a better life.
For me one of the most exciting parts about the idea of living in the United States besides being with my parents was the idea of going to school, but I have to say that getting used to my new life was quite difficult since I didn’t know a word in English. However, in school I always tried my hardest to excel in all my classes because I always listened and believed what my teachers told me that if I did good in school doors and opportunities would open up for me. I graduated from high school with high honors with a 4.1 GPA. However, despite having a 4.1 GPA I was not able to attend the school of my choice because I did not qualified for financial aid neither could I afford myself paying out-state tuition rates.
My desire of becoming an educated person but most importantly the need that I have to do something about my situation made me join the Student Immigrant Movement. In SIM I found other students in my situation. SIM has not only has reinforced my hope but most importantly has given me the skills and the tools that I need to keep fighting for my dreams and for other students’ dreams.