By Sadhana Singh
In the first program between Margaret McNamara Education Grants (MMEG) and my university, Trinity Washington, I was elated to be selected as a grantee!
I had learned about this scholarship opportunity from Trinity’s Dean of Arts and Sciences, and worked on the application, as I juggled classes, an internship, and other on-campus responsibilities.
MMEG will help further my studies in the next school year without the burden of financial stress, and I am incredibly thankful! I've learned only recently that MMEG has been empowering women from underprivileged backgrounds for the past 35 years. Their focus on access to education and gender equality are very dear to me, especially with their gift that extends my life of learning. I hope to make a similar impact in the lives of others.
This is my story...
In December 2012, I was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration policy introduced by President Obama. This provides social security numbers and work permits to immigrant youth who (among other requirements) came to the United States before the age of 16.
Although I now had a form of legality, college remained unaffordable, since I was barred from the Pell Grant, other federal student aid, private loans and scholarships, and in-state tuition. Fortunately, TheDream.US based in Virginia, was created for immigrant youth with DACA who have the drive and commitment, but lack the financial means of going to college. With this life-changing scholarship, I chose to attend Trinity Washington University, a small private women’s college in Washington, D.C. In August 2014, I relocated from Georgia to D.C. and started my college career at age 28.
Collegiate life in the nation’s capital is a continually exhilarating adventure, and I have enjoyed every moment thus far. My academic experience at Trinity has been excellent, but I continue to face financial challenges in covering all of my college expenses. To make the move from Georgia to Trinity, I received immense help from my coworkers at New South and started an online Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for transportation and my first year of room and board on campus. I try to get paid internships and part-time work to sustain my out-of-pocket costs, but being able to pay each semester is a constant source of anxiety.
At Trinity, I found a new home and support system in President McGuire, the deans, my professors, my fellow Trinity sisters and the 30+ other DREAMers in my cohort. However, I could not have imagined all the opportunities that have come my way so far, including MMEG. I have been given the resources and tools to not only earn my degree, but to work towards the betterment of myself and my community.
In Georgia, I lived with my status as a shameful secret, barely having the confidence to “come out” to my high school friends and coworkers over the years. Today, I am truly proud to be at Trinity where DREAMers are welcomed with open arms and given a voice to share our stories, advocate for our cause, and connect with others in similar situations.
Being an undocumented student in the US strengthened my passion
This network and sisterhood have gone a long way in strengthening my passion for giving back to the community, not only as a DREAMer, but as a woman. Now, as part of the MMEG family, I am doubly motivated to work towards the advancement of women, in D.C., back home in Guyana, and around the world.
My studies at Trinity focus on Communication and International Affairs. I hope to become an investigative journalist and travel to less developed regions of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. I wish to give a voice to those underprivileged and struggling; to tell their stories so that others can listen, learn, and help. My goal is to empower others in the same way that I have been through DACA, TheDream.US, Trinity, and now MMEG.
Having waited so long to realize my dreams, I value each and every experience and opportunity that I have been given by the many people who believe in me and want me to do well. Having basked in the honor of being a new MMEG grantee at the WBFN Annual Dinner, I am incredibly grateful for their belief in me, and I acknowledge my responsibility to pay it forward. With renewed hope for a bright future in both my professional and personal life, I am more than happy to take on the task of helping others to achieve this.
Thank you MMEG