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My name is Oscar Alvarez Mejia and I am the proud son of an immigrant. A powerful Mujer. I am a proud immigrant myself. I was born in Mexico, but now I have the pleasure of calling South Central, Los Angeles home. I don’t take any of these pieces of my identity lightly. Which is why the CHCI experience has meant so much to me.

When I first told my mother that CHCI had given me the opportunity to intern in Congress, and that they were willing to fund the entire trip, she was so proud and excited. But to be honest, we were also very skeptical. It just seemed too good to be true. Who in the world was willing to invest that much money in me?

Based on my childhood, I had every reason to fail. I went to a high school where only 26% of my peers walked across the stage. Even more shocking, only 5% went on to pursue higher education. As a kid, I learned to hide from cops before I learned to speak English. Because as an undocumented immigrant in this country, it is often necessary to live in the shadows.

To put it simply, educational and professional opportunities, like the one offered by CHCI, were just a dream.

However, I have been so blessed with a village of family, friends, and mentors who have guided and empowered me to dream big. These people have taught me to shoot for the moon, because with a village right beside me, there is no way I can miss.

Because of this, I feel like it’s important to give back.

When I accepted the internship with CHCI, I had no idea just how much I was agreeing to. Accepting the CHCI internship meant I was accepting the responsibility to ensure that more of us are invited to the table in the future.

As I write this, there is still no permanent solution for DACA recipients- meaning 11 million undocumented immigrants are still forced to live in fear. Major parts of Puerto Rico are still recovering from Hurricane Irma & Maria. Women still earn about 20% less than their male counterparts, and women’s representation in the STEM fields is significantly low. And the list can go on and on…

Our fight for the many issues that affect the Latinx community is far from over, and I am humbled by the opportunity to work alongside you all to address the needs of our communities across the U.S.

Unlike the high school version of myself, who lived in fear of so many unknowns- I am now too empowered to return to the shadows.

It is my mission to continue to shout UNDOCUMENTED AND UNAFRAID and seek out opportunities because my documented status does not define who I am.

And as I enter spaces of leadership, I will continue to be a voice for my community. But most importantly I will continue to embrace that I am my mother’s wildest dream- a kid who defied all the odds stacked against them and found a way to make a difference.