In the summer after high school, Catherine had already accepted that she and her friends would grow apart, with college splitting them into opposite geographical directions. She intended to go the furthest south, where, five hundred miles away, the university of her dreams had accepted her for all her merits and “flaws”—undocumented and all. But her status anchored her to her hometown, where she resentfully enrolled in community college, the only affordable route into higher education.
In 2009, Catherine transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where she no longer allows the fear or shame of her status to paralyze her from taking action. Accepting her status allowed her to become an activist intent on making changes to the immigration system, and now she is comfortable telling her story even to an audience of strangers. It was only recently, however, that she shared this secret with her oldest friends, after years of dodging questions and avoiding conversation topics. She learned that the revelation changed nothing about their friendship. Catherine considers herself to be in a place in her life where she can finally revel in complete acceptance from her peers and from herself.