NOTES FROM THE TRAIL

Kelsey Burke's Story

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Posted on November 24, 2011 by juan | Post a comment


  • When I was 3 years old, my mother left Honduras to come to the United States because the money she earned was not enough to provide for my two sisters, my brother and me. 

     

                When I was 10 years old, my mother returned to Honduras. Shortly after she arrived, we were told to get in a truck because we were going to the United States. We went through El Salvador, Guatemala and then Mexico.

     

                    We stayed in Mexico for four months. Then, we took a plane to the border and stayed in a hotel there. My mother hired a smuggler to cross us over to the United States. One night, we all got in a truck, we were driven to a deserted area, we were dropped off and we began to walk. My mother said to walk until we got to the light. I do not remember how long we walked or how far we walked. I do remember that it was dark, night time when we started. And it was still dark when we arrived to the light, to the United States. 

     

     

                I started 6th grade when I was 11 years old. I was in ESOL for less than 2 years. By the time I was in 8th grade, I was taking Advance Language Arts. I dreamed of becoming a writer someday. Shortly after starting 9th grade and the Criminal Justice Magnet, I developed a passion for law and for change. Then, I knew I wanted to become an attorney. I continued to take honors classes and the summer after 10th grade, I became a dual enrolled student at Palm Beach Community College. When I was in 11th grade, by dreams began to fall apart. I applied to get a job at Muvico. I went for the orientation and got hired. I was told to bring my social security on my first day to work. Then, I learned I could not work legally. Shortly after, while taking the Drivers Ed class at school, I learned that I could not get a license.

     

                The summer before 12th grade, I started working two jobs. Both places paid cash. I started 12th grade focused on work. I hated every time teachers asked if we had applied for college, signed up for the ACT/SAT, applied for Bright Futures and if we were registered to vote. I could not do any of it. I left the convenience store and the restaurant because of school. I started working at Dunkin Donuts. At that point, work became more important. I left the dual enrollment program and I started missing days at school to be at work. When I started my second semester of 12th grade, my guidance counselor signed me up for the ACT/SAT. He had me fill out Bright Futures because he found out that a student had 3 years to activate the scholarship from the day they graduated. He was aware of my status but still believed that I had a chance. I graduated high school in May 2006 with a 3.4 GPA, a Criminal Justice Certificate, 75% Bright Futures Scholarship, and 15 college credits. 

     

     

                Still, I could not go to college. I could not work legally. I could not drive legally. 

     

    When I turned 18 years old, I went in for a consultation with an immigration attorney. He said that since I was from Honduras, I could apply for Temporary Protection Status. During the next year, I worked at the mall, 10 hours a day, waiting and hoping. In May 2007, I was granted Temporary Protection Status. 

     

     

                When I was granted Temporary Protection Status, I applied to Florida Atlantic University right away and I started college the fall of 2007. I worked full time and attended school full time. In 2009, my brother was deported. In December 2010, I graduated from FAU with a major in Public Communication and a minor in Sociology. I graduated debt free from college.
  

     

                My experience with the immigration system has inspired me to pursue a career as an immigration attorney. I desire to help others to pursue their passion, to fight for their dreams, and to make a positive difference so that we may find a pathway to citizenship. 

Kelsey

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