I was introduced to the VOLS Dream Not Deferred Project by a staff member of The Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, which is the high school I attended. VOLS partners with my school to provide free legal assistance for immigrant youth, and I was provided with these services. The help I received from VOLS during this application process was tremendous. We held continuous meetings with the lawyer and my family was informed and supported during every step of the way. We were part of the process from filling out the applications and thinking about strategy. Our lawyer helped us collect all the needed documentation and attended the immigration interview with me. Having help from VOLS not only enabled me to adjust my immigration status, but it opened many doors to my future.

I am the first generation of my family to attend college in the United States. I am a very hard working and dedicated person, but in reality none of my hard work would have led to a college education without the chance to correct my status. I was able to graduate high school as one of the top five students in my class and I have come very far since then.

I currently attend college and am majoring in Business Administration. I have earned several scholarships and am on the Dean’s list. I also currently work at an international corporation, which has always been a dream of mine. I gained an internship opportunity at a billion dollar company as a full time Human Resources Generalist. This has been one of my biggest successes.

In addition to my studies and work, I am a weight lifting competitor and an Olympic hopeful even though I am the youngest member at my gym. Now that I have my green card, I have the opportunity to be sponsored to travel to different states and countries for competitions.

These are some of the successes which I would not have been able to achieve without the support of VOLS and the volunteer attorney who worked on my case. This organization has helped many students like me to achieve the “American Dream”. Other students facing the same challenges that I faced are not aware that services like this are provided and might feel as if there is no way out, because they lack knowledge regarding their rights and the free legal assistance they can obtain. I can say without hesitation that if they are worried about their future and discouraged that they may never be able to work or go to college because they lack immigration status, they should reach out to VOLS. My parents and I will forever be appreciative of all the guidance, support and advice we received from this organization.

Sincerely,

Pierina Ortiz