‘They will not be able to hire me’ Student fears a degree won’t be enough as DACA expires
By Antonio Garcia
Guadalupe Orozco felt hurt when she graduated from Lane Tech high school.
Her friends were leaving for big, four-year universities, but she felt she couldn’t go with them. Her undocumented status was preventing her from applying for the financial aid she’d need.
Orozco’s family brought her to the U.S. from Guanajuato, Mexico at age six, and she is technically not a citizen.
“It was either, ‘I go to this four-year school and screw myself economically,’” she said, “or, ‘I go to a two-year school with a scholarship I know I’m going to get and at least move up a little.’”
She chose the economical decision and came to Harold Washington, where she has been studying hard and balancing her job as a pharmacy technician.
“I think [HWC] for me is a safe place,” said the 20-year-old Orozco. “I have to wake up, go to class, turn in all my homework while working on future assignments and then at night I have to go and hustle and make money [at my job].”
Orozco, who is pursuing an associates in sociology, began working at Walgreens in retail as a teenager. She got promoted to Pharmacy Technician after getting certification through a company program.
She feels she shares a common work ethic with Harold Washington students.
“I think a lot of the students at HWC are hustlers who bust their butts to make it,” she said. “A lot of the people that study here work at the same time, while most of the people that go directly to four-year universities are full-time students who don’t work, they don’t really know what it’s like to have more than one responsibility were your job is not only to be the student.”
While she does enjoy working at the pharmacy, she is disappointed in the influence of insurance companies over medicine.
“A big part of my life is service,” she said. “The insurance companies are just making things difficult for people.”
Orozco recalled a customer who was prescribed medication for an eye infection that put him at risk of losing it.
“The doctor prescribed medication we no longer carried so we called him so he could substitute,” she said. “He substituted the medicine with something much more expensive and the customer had to choose between losing his eye or paying for the medication.”
Her life as a DACA student has been positive and negative. When the program was created in 2012, she felt opportunity and hope.
“It’s a privilege and something I don’t know they’ll let me keep,” she said. “Through DACA we do receive a social security number, but it’s only for working purposes which hurts because you have people who are working and know when they retire, they are going to have money to lean on while I don’t even know where my money is going.”
While once offering hope and security, the termination of DACA now leaves Orozco with more question than answers.
“My DACA expires in 2019 so even if I get my degree and people see that I have it, they will not be able to hire me,” she said.
Amidst the chaos that is her life, Orozco at some point hopes to find some time to develop a more engaging social life.
“I got married young and a lot of my friends just disappeared,” she said. “There is this misconception that when you get married it’s just you and your husband and it’s not true.”