Iris Borrego came to the United States from Mexico when she was ten years old. She attended both grade school and high school in Chicago, and graduated from Foreman High School in 2000.
She wanted to attend college, but due to her undocumented status she could not register for college courses immediately. She received her DACA permit in 2012 when she was thirty years old, and it was then that she decided to pursue her dream of going to college.
Because she had been out of the classroom for so long, she signed up for ESL classes at Wright College to brush up on her writing skills. While she was there, a transition specialist at the college introduced her to the Gateway Scholars program, which helps pay tuition and offers support services as students transition into credit degree and certificate programs.
Originally, she thought she wanted a career in nursing, but started to change her mind after taking her first psychology course. After her second course she was convinced, and in fall 2014 she declared a new major.
Going back to school had its challenges – namely, balancing work, school, and family. As a single mother of three children, the first few semesters were extremely difficult – she even remembers breastfeeding her youngest child while working on homework assignments. She credits support from friends and mentors at Wright College with helping her to overcome obstacles that many other students never had to face.
She was actively involved in extracurricular activities at Wright, including being a founding member of the Gateway Scholars Club, a student organization that helps Adult Education students transition to college. As an advocate for undocumented and DACA students, she helped to figure out ways to support DACA and undocumented students. She also had a work-study position at the Adult Education Office at Wright College Humboldt Park once she received her DACA work permit.
A few weeks after graduating in Spring 2017, she received the news that she won the Dream.US scholarship. an award of $29,000. She also obtained a full-ride scholarship to Dominican University, where she is now pursuing her bachelor’s degree with the goal of becoming a clinical psychologist.
“I am extremely grateful for the support that I received at Wright College. I particularly want to recognize and express gratitude toward Ms. Nitanda, Mr. Rasquin, Professor Connolly, Professor Holmes, Professor Simantirakis, and the Wright College Writing Center. I thought for a minute that everything was going to stop after the termination of DACA, but I want to tell all DACA and undocumented students to keep pursuing their dreams. Don’t be afraid because everything is possible.”