A Proposal from Marilyn
by Mark Chmiel
16 September 2016
After considering what suffering concerns me most, I decided to center my Empathy Practicum on the struggles of the undocumented Hispanic and Latino population in the surrounding areas. I attended meetings for many clubs and organizations but the Latino Student Alliance (LSA) spoke to me personally because I am also undocumented. My practicum will focus on two key issues the undocumented population face: education and healthcare.
Many young undocumented students do not receive ins-tate tuition in their home states, are ineligible for scholarships, and cannot receive aid from FAFSA. Many undocumented students live their lives as ordinary students pursuing higher education like their friends around them; however, like myself, as senior year approached they realized that fulfilling their dreams of becoming doctors and teachers was far more difficult to achieve. While the system of higher education is not built for noncitizen, there are many ways around these obstacles. In high school, my 4.0 GPA, four AP credits, and extensive extracurriculars reassured me that I would find a college I could pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. However, Mizzou informed me I wouldn’t receive instate tuition, I was not eligible for one of Truman University’s scholarships, Arkansas University told me they just don’t know if I will receive aid over the phone. However, Maryville worked well with my situation and there are many other schools that offered me an opportunity at higher education. I believe with my knowledge and passion to help those in similar situations will aid the community. Politicians and many others claim that undocumented immigrants are criminals and rapists; however, our community is driven by hope for a better and more fulfilling life. I want to help students pursue and their dreams and prove those wrong that claim immigrants hurt the economy and country. I believe I have something of substantial sustenance to provide to the world, and I know other undocumented kids feel the same way. LSA is thrilled to work with me and we will attempt to provide information to public and private high schools across the area about student they may be neglecting, and how to improve their chances at higher education.
My mother died when I was eleven. It was breast cancer initially, and then it spread to her back. I do not remember most of her suffering because my parents tried to block my brother and me from the details. My whole family is undocumented and diagnosis, treatment, and more is difficult to reach with our status. Healthcare and insurance is nearly impossible achieve as an undocumented immigrant. She visited clinics that did not have equipment to detect cancer until it had metastasized. Even after the cancer was detected at its most violent stage, she could not afford proper treatment. Our college funds were drained by the cost of chemotherapy and eventually Hospice care. I remember there was over 30 people in my house everyday the last 3 months of her life. Her whole family flew in from Mexico and every neighbor, parishioner, teacher, and student came to offer sympathy. I asked my father last year, if we were citizens, whether or not she would have lived, whether or not her back would have broken into small pieces when she turned over on her side one day, or if she would have kept her long beautiful curly hair. He said absolutely.
I understand that healthcare is a polarizing discussion between Americans, and I believe that the issue of healthcare crosses cultural lines throughout the country. For undocumented immigrants, a broken ankle, a stomach bug, a staph infection can be devastating to their financial situation. I hope to work with LSA to visit different counties and spread awareness for the undocumented population and inform those who need medical attention that there are options: affordable urgent care facilities, clinics specifically for undocumented immigrants, and more.
–Marilyn is in my Humanities in Western Culture class at Maryville on Mondays and Wednesdays. Here’s hoping she will do a Share the Wealth soon.