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‘Ganas’ and time: Panel explores what it means to be a Dreamer

‘Ganas’ and time: Panel explores what it means to be a Dreamer - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Addinelly “Addy” Moreno, shares her advice, experiences and obstacles of being a Dreamer with others who are going through the same thing at the Student Dreamer Panel, April 17, 2024, in the Science and Technology Building. Photo by Dearius Cuellar

College is difficult, but for a Dreamer it can be much harder. 

As husband-and-wife Dreamers, Addinelly “Addy” Moreno and Felix Flores know the challenges of navigating a system that was never built for them.

A Dreamer is an undocumented person who came to the United States as a child, and some are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. There is no path to permanent citizen status for anyone in the program. DACA recipients must renew their status every two years.

“There were times that I was laid off or let go from my job because of my DACA status and having to wait for that little piece of paper saying I can work,” said Flores at a Dreamer Student Panel April 17 in Room 161 of the Science and Technology Building.

Flores and Moreno, alumni of Texas A&M University-San Antonio, were among five panelists who spoke at the Dreamer Student Panel hosted by the Mays Center for Experiential Learning and Community Engagement. The panel allowed Dreamers to network, learn from each other and jumpstart their careers.

Since Dreamers are undocumented, they do not have the same rights as citizens, including the right to vote. However, there are other ways they can have their voice heard: by going to town hall meetings or calling the city about problems in their community.

“When you call the city, they’re not going to ask for your social. They’re going to ask what’s your problem,” said Moreno, communications director for City Council Office District 3. “It’s very admirable to be able to hustle around the rules.”

Moreno, the winner of the 2022 A&M San Antonio Jag Women Rock! Award, encouraged fellow Dreamers to get the ‘ganas,’ or moxie, to try whatever they plan to accomplish in life.

The panelists shared how they navigate paying taxes using their Individual Tax Identification Number. 

“There are several steps you have to take in order to get an ITIN but you have to fill out your taxes,” said computer science senior Jefferson Rodriguez. 

“Just do your taxes,” Moreno said. “Just show that you are contributing to this world and that you are doing that positive impact because a 1099 can [only] get you so far.”

Moreno advised Dreamers to save 20% of their income in order to have money for taxes.

“So that when it does come down to the end of the year, you already have that in your pocket,” Moreno said. “It’s like you don’t even feel it. It’s already in your savings account.”

Moreno and Flores were strong advocates of leaving a paper trail and establishing good credit to display financial responsibility. 

Networking was another topic of discussion for the panel. The panelists were questioned on the importance of it and how it might be different for non-residents of the U.S.

“It’s good to know people, but you have to back it up 100% all the time,” Flores said.

Cesar Beltran, another A&M-San Antonio graduate, reinforced Flores’ advice.

“You have to stand out, there is no other way… you have to be exceptional at what you are doing,” Beltran said. “If you are planning on applying for a certain job, just know that it requires some knowledge of that field specifically. If you are applying for an IT job, make sure you know about IT.”    

A&M-San Antonio is the only four-year university in the San Antonio area partnered with TheDream.US, which is the nation’s largest college and career success program for Dreamers. Dreamers at A&M-San Antonio are eligible to apply for TheDream.US National Scholarship. It is a scholarship exclusively for Dreamers of up to $33,000 for a four year degree.

For more information: 

Student Counseling Center (210) 784-1331

Dreamer resources:

About the Authors

Dearius Cuellar
Dearius Cuellar is a senior majoring in Communications at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. He received his associate of arts from Palo Alto College and is a San Antonio native. In his down time he hosts a section in the student-run radio station and enjoys making music of his own. After graduation he plans to open his own restaurant and pursue a career in public relations or reporting.
Ramiro Rabago III
Ramiro Rabago III is a senior majoring in history at Texas A&M University with a minor in communications. He works at Old Navy and enjoys sci-fi movies and video games. He received an associate in the arts at Northwest Vista College in November of 2020. He plans to specialize in Latino Studies.

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