I think Fort Lewis really helped me understand that I could lead. My hope is that we can live up to the promise that we are all created equal, that we're all endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Marissa Molina never thought she'd get through school, let alone soar to the top of her profession. But now she's making history as the first DACA recipient to serve on a Colorado State Board. Specifically the Board of Trustees at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Brought from Mexico when she was nine, Marissa qualified for the DACA exemption under President Obama. After graduating from FLC in 2014 with a degree in political science, Marisa went on to carve out a career as a teacher, where she was soon recognized as a fierce advocate for vulnerable immigrant families. The White House's Champions of Change award recognizes how one voice really can shape the world. In 2015, Marissa received that honor for being an extraordinary agent of change in the classroom.
I work on state policy on immigration. And I also work on federal policy around immigration so worked really closely with members of Congress, and then state elected officials on policy. After I left Fort Lewis I became a high school teacher and then spent some time working in education with families. And a lot of the work that I was doing was centered around access to higher education. So for me, being connected to students, being connected to that experience is really important. It often means a lot to people and to other first generation low income immigrant students to see somebody like themselves be sitting in front of them talking about their experience.
I think the identity development piece of my time at Fort Lewis was incredibly important. Spending a lot of time in El Centro, being mentored by Shirena, who has just had an incredible impact in my life, really allowed me to understand not only just who I was, but who I wanted to become. I was pushed to think about how do I identify, what is my background as an undocumented Latinx woman mean in the world? How do I take that and do something with it and inspire other people like myself, was really important because it gave me a newfound sense of strength in who I was
The most impactful part of my trip to the White House was walking into a place that I didn't think that people like me belonged. To be recognized for the work that I was doing in my community with my students was a recognition that this is my home, that this is also my country, and that the work that I'm doing with students, the work that I do now, matters. And it's what makes this country a really amazing place to be. You know, my hope is always that the United States can become a more inclusive place, that it recognizes the contributions that people from many different communities, including the immigrant community, make every single day.
For me, the American dream was possible. My hope is that the American dream is possible for many, many, many decades to come and available to those people who are willing to come here and to work hard for it.