This year my family decided to give to a charity for Christmas... And the money is going to a remarkable young man, you would be proud to call your friend. I know I am.
My daughter has just finished up the college admissions process and submitted her impressive apps to many fine universities...Penn, Boston College, Tulane, Northeastern and others, but my friend cannot. Although he is no 2 in his class, has a near perfect SAT, runs cross country, earned the position of the the high school's drum major, he won't be sending his applications in with my daughters. You see this young man's parents crossed the border when he was five years old in search of a better future for their son in a country where we are all equal under the law.
Growing up in United States afforded him the opportunity to obtain an education alongside of my child or yours. And he thrived. Although he worked the fields every weekend... and he learned to play the drum by watching his best buddy who got to take lessons... and he never had an SAT Coach -- he continued to excel. He knew his circumstances were different from the other kids, but he thought the difference was that he was poor. And he did not let that hold him back -- just an obstacle in his eyes.
The end of sophomore year in high school is a time of many milestones... It's when our children are preparing for driving and high schools determine class ranks of their students in preparation for the next step in their education. And that's when this young man's parents told him the truth. He would not be getting a driver's license along with his buddies and more devastating he would not be able to go to college. Paying an out of country tuition rate is out of the question for this family and there will be no merit scholarships to assist with this either - not because he did not earn one but because he is not a citizen.
Yet he did not let any of this discourage him. He continued to thrive and also pray that the Dream Act would pass. That is how I came to know him - thru my sister's church. He will be graduating number 2 in his class in June. And while other kids who have been in the advanced classes alongside him are dreaming of going Boston, Rhode Island or DC for college, he would be happy to go to the local community college and work his way through. It will be hard because the only job he can really get without the proper papers is back in the fields and he will have to take buses and bum rides to get to the campus -- but he is not complaining - he will find a way.
When I think about it, I guess my family's first Christmas donation is not really a donation; it is more of an investment in a brilliant young man who is going to be a great American one day.