By Kimrey Van Perre
My friends have been called “courageous” for sharing their plight as undocumented students with the US Congress. They have been called “DREAMers” due to the Dream Act that has been repeatedly introduced in Congress but never passed. I call them “selfless” and “unrelenting” in their commitment to the medically underserved despite their uncertain legal status.
I am a 3rd year medical student at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM). I am not a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) student. I was born a US citizen. But many of my friends at SSOM are DACA students. Their families, like mine generations ago, immigrated to this country. They wanted their children to have opportunities and to grow up in a safe and stable country…
I was attracted to my friends because of our mutual dedication to medically underserved communities. Like all medical students, DACA students fulfilled the same rigorous requirements. We completed demanding pre-medical coursework and tough exams and spent a year applying to medical schools across the country. Only after years of hard work and dedication did we start the intensive journey to become a physician.
Unlike my journey, DACA students accomplished all of this while living in the shadows. They grew up in this country afraid of their undocumented status being uncovered and afraid of being deported to a country they barely remember. Somehow, they managed to fund a college education without being able to get a federal student loan. And yet, they dared to dream. They dreamed of being a physician and helping others. In spite of their undocumented status and limited resources, they pursued that dream.