“I am one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of the United States,” McKinney Boyd High School valedictorian Larissa Martinez said in her graduation speech.
Martinez “finally mustered up the courage” to share her story as she stood before her graduating class. Martinez, along with her mother and sister, arrived in the United States in 2010 on a tourist visa, after fleeing her abusive and alcoholic father. They put in an application for citizenship and are still waiting for it to be processed nearly seven years later.
Her story is one of triumph over extenuating circumstances. She comes humble beginnings to becoming valedictorian of her school with a 4.95 GPA and a full-ride to Yale, where she plans to enter the pre-med track and eventually become a neurosurgeon. Despite not having Internet, a washing machine, or even her own bed, she has overcome and wants to tell everyone that “undocumented immigrants are people too… America can become great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice.” She ended her speech with, “They told me I couldn’t, so I did,” which was followed by a standing ovation.
Similarly, Mayte Ibarra, valedictorian of Crockett High School, revealed her status as an undocumented immigrant on Twitter following her graduation and received so much backlash that she deleted her Twitter account.