I am Marivel Servin. Soy Mexicana, and I am a DACA recipient.
I was in the eighth grade when I realized not having “papeles” made me different. I had come home from a college fair with information to share with my parents. Instead of sharing my same excitement, I was met with concern and a sense of loss when I talked to my parents about my experience.
My mom said college wasn’t for people like me.
“What do you mean,” I asked her.
She said I couldn’t go to college because I wasn’t a citizen, and because there was no way we could ever afford it.
From that moment forward, I abandoned the thought of ever going to college because good things only come to those who were born on the right side of the border.
It didn’t matter if my grade point average was above a 4.0. It didn’t matter if I graduated at the top of my class. And it didn’t matter if I showed up to school every single day.
I was devastated.
It wasn’t until August 15, 2012 when I felt I had a chance. That’s when DACA was enforced. I could finally work and receive financial support to pay for college. But it wasn’t enough.
I got accepted into Cal Poly SLO, but my family and I couldn’t afford it. I was at a loss. I pulled my acceptance and spent a year silently fighting my own depression and avoiding conversations about why I stayed home. Sometimes I wish I had gone, but I’ve realized staying home was also a great option for me.
I decided to attend Bakersfield College, where I have met so many people who are now my greatest allies, supporters and friends.
I joined Project Conexiones and LUPE, which have both taught me power can be found through unity. Through my group, I have been able to speak out and be unapologetic about it.
I was able to share my story in front of hundreds of people at the Dream Revolution concert. Such events and spaces are important because most people in our community isolate their struggles and forget to connect with others who are living a similar battle.
I hope with my story, people are inspired to go out into the community and raise their voices to demand justice for their friends, family and even themselves. I believe that we have been conditioned to accept our legacy of struggles, but it’s time we begin to create a legacy of success.
Our people are working every day in the fields, cleaning, making sacrifices and raising their children in poverty, while people like our president demonize and dehumanize us whenever they get a chance. But we are done.
As a community we have to empower those around us and speak against politicians and people that look down on us because of the color of our skin.
Here’s three ways you can become more civically engaged:
- Vote if you are a citizen and make sure when the census comes around, you and your family are counted. Regardless of your status, become informed because the decisions our government makes affect us all.
- Volunteer to help organizations and groups like Project Conexiones and South Kern Sol so they can continue to support and do work in our community.
- Get educated and speak up, always. No one knows what we go through more than us.
We have to stop letting our stories be told by those who have not walked a day in our shoes. We’re closer to liberation, so let’s keep fighting because empowered people don’t stop.
Marivel Servin shared her story at the Dream Revolution concert, an event hosted by South Kern Sol and Project Conexiones of Bakersfield College, made possible with a grant from Immigrant Rising.
South Kern Sol is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, youth reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.