What happens after high school?

Published 3:49 pm Saturday, November 17, 2012

One of the most heartbreaking moments in my career as an educator took place one year following graduation ceremonies. A student of mine who had earned her diploma — and who should have been celebrating — was breaking down, unable to stop crying while other students were already off enjoying one of the happier nights of their lives.

As I tried to comfort her and determine what was wrong, she explained that she was the child of undocumented immigrants and her future options were incredibly limited. Gaining entrance to college would be difficult, and gaining access to any financial aid would be nearly impossible without proper documentation. America had been her home for nearly her entire life, yet many doors of opportunity open to those born in this country were closed to her. After walking across the stage and receiving her diploma, she had essentially walked into a brick wall.

My former student’s story is not that uncommon, yet the realities and challenges of students like her remain unknown to many of us.

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On Monday, Paths to Peace and the Albert Lea Human Rights Commission are sponsoring a showing of the documentary film “Papers,” the story of undocumented youth and the challenges they face as they turn 18 without legal status. The film will be shown at Riverland Community College’s Albert Lea campus, Lecture Hall 124. Showtime is 7 p.m. Admission is free, and a discussion led by Rev. John Guttermann of the Advocates for Human Rights will follow.


Jeremy Corey-Gruenes

Albert Lea