Jessica Itztani Amezcua Chavez
My name is Jessica and I am a first generation graduate student. I am a CSUSM alumni. I graduated in 2018. I am currently a paralegal and my main career goal is to become an attorney. I have had the dream to become an attorney since I was in middle school. Middle school was a big eye opener for me. I realized my path was different than others, because I was undocumented. I thought I could mess around, but instead I understood I needed to grow up. To me, being undocumented meant I had to work harder for what I wanted. I knew I had to start achieving at an early age to ensure I had a good future. This was all under the impression that I was “abnormal” at the time. Since this was still the time when many undocumented immigrants were still in the shadows and it was a taboo to even mention your legal status. I grew up living with fear and not trusting many with my “dirty secret.” This completely changed by the time I was in high school. I found good mentors by senior year of high school. I didn’t realize how hard it was to go to college, because documentation and financial barriers existed. That is when Obama decided to bless my life and make Dream Act and DACA possible all at the right time for me to graduate in 2014. BECAUSE of DACA and the Dream Act, I was able to go to college like a “normal” person and I didn’t have to feel weird. Although I did feel like a guinea pig in High School AVID, because no counselor or teacher seemed to know how to help me and my “Dream Act situation”, and I even lost the opportunity to go to UCR because of it. Dream Act was so new, no one knew how to implement it. This made me feel left out, like I was one in a million. I thought that because I did not go to UCR, I had failed. It was when I realized it wasn’t because of me, it was because of the barriers that existed. From then on, I said to myself, “A paper doesn’t define me, and people will not define me by it either.” I’ve been living that statement ever since.Fast forward to 2019, I am now a young Latina who made it through a four year college, got a BA in political science and a minor in Spanish, worked multiple jobs during college, did many internships that included meeting multiple Presidents of the Bar Association to working with a Senator in San Marcos, CA and all of this while living through traumatic discrimination events. I am a Latina who is fearless, I said a paper didn’t define me and it took me to where I am today. After graduation, I went to USD for an intense one year Paralegal Certificate program, which I just ended. I am now preparing to soon be certified in February 2020. In my free time, I am a self-taught makeup artist and I am a community leader. I search to inspire and create art through freedom of expression and education. I have been involved in political matters in my community. I have been a team lead organizer for Justice Overcoming Boundaries in San Diego, CA. I am a parishioner at Resurrection Church in Escondido, CA and involved in the Social Justice Ministry which is also linked to the Justice & Equity Coalition. I have been heavily involved in public meetings bringing awareness to issues our minority communities face in San Diego county. In October of 2018, we helped changed the city council seats through heavy campaigning. I even got sponsored by J.O.B to get trained as a leader for a week with the Gamaliel Network Foundation. In this October meeting, we had a great turnout with election candidates to participants. I even did a news segment with NBC 7 San Diego. If you search up “Justice & Equity Coalition Jessica Amezcua”, the news article will come up.While I am passionate about helping mi raza and gente in my community, I struggle with my own problems like any other dreamer. While going through all of this, I had to take a break from social justice, because my own mother is now going through deportation proceedings. The fear of losing a parent or possibly both my parents, whom gave their all so I could be here where I am today is very hard. In fact it is excruciating hard. Even still, I desire to help fellow immigrants and dreamers, through social justice and support. I wish to inspire others to not give up. Through working as a paralegal and helping in this asylum crisis in El Centro, CA, and through my art, I hope to heal and inspire others that a paper doesn’t define them. The road is scary, but not impossible. Many are going through the same or even worse experiences than I am, but what I do know is that my story is unique and with this story I hope to heal others. My message is to not take the pressure of having to be perfect in order for people to recognize your worth. We are worthy and we are superheroes for being who we are and for enduring what we go through as dreamers. We can surpass anything we set our minds to. A paper doesn’t define us. We are the living proof that boundaries do not exist. We are living proof that humans can do many things while withstanding the hate and racism and constant push back from the government. Together we are strong. Together we can change the narrative. My Instagram account is @stanzii_ and @stanzii_mua I base my platform in cultural values. I seek to expand myself and help many through my artwork. Collaborating with fellow artists and spreading cultura is my main goal for Instagram. Eventually I hope to get licensed and have my own makeup business, but until then, I will continue to support fellow small businesses, especially undocumented entrepreneurs. Thank you for your attention to this matter and for taking the time to read my brief story.
What the Undocuprofessionals means to you?
Being an undocumented professional means “orgullo”. It reminds me of the sweat my family members went through in order for me to become an attorney. It means being myself and being proud of what I’ve accomplished, because I am where I am with the help of those who believed in me and helped me succeed. They didn’t see a missing paper, they saw the professional I was supposed to become and for that being a undocuprofessional means orgullo.
Message for Undocumented Students and Professionals
Being undocumented can seem like we’re “different” and we have to search for more help, but that should never keep you from achieving what you want. We may have to work ten times harder to get where we are now, but those milestones will be worth it. Society expects us to be superheroes, do everything and being perfect at everything simply because we don’t have a paper. Let that be your backbone. Use it as motivation. My first recommendation is to always ask questions. Make sure you’re going the path you want to. My second recommendation is to not let financial boundaries limit you. There’s many scholarships for us. Every time you see a job posting or a scholarship posting for “citizens only”, no te agüites. There’s plenty of money out there for us. Don’t let that be a barrier in your dreams. We’re dreamers. We make things happen. You are a superhero no matter what, because the things we go as undocumented students are hard.