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#MNPSco2017: Lilia Rafful, McGavock High School

Graduation_Social-Media_2017_FacebookAd-2 Lilia Rafful is a first-generation immigrant who was brought to the United States from Mexico as a child by her mother. Because of the language barrier, her family was unaware of how to go about getting the proper paperwork for legally obtaining citizenship.

The Secretary of Homeland Security announced in June 2012 that students like Lilia would receive a special status, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA to remain in the United Status, attend college or obtain employment.

As a DACA student, Lilia ran into several obstacles when it came time to apply to colleges and finding money for college. Because she is a DACA student she is not able to fill out the FAFSA or have the opportunity for the TNPromise. Her only opportunity to attend college is to go to a school and pay out of state tuition which can be three times more than in-state tuition, even though she has lived in the US since she was 4-years-old.

Lilia marched at the Tennessee state capitol earlier this year to show her support to the state senators that wanted to pass SB-1014, which would have offered in-state tuition to undocumented youth in Tennessee. The bill failed to pass.

To make it even more frustrating for Lilia, she received a letter from a college in Tennessee stating that she was admitted and they had a program that would offer her in-state tuition. Lilia and her mom drove four hours to the university to fill out the paperwork only to find out that the university made a mistake in sending her that letter and they could not offer it to her. This did not stop Lilia from pursuing her dream of attending college.

Lilia researched and reached out to several schools and organizations that offer assistance to DACA students. She has been accepted to Trevecca Nazarene University, who does a great job working with DACA students and has received a $44,000 scholarship from them to help with tuition.

"This is truly what America is about," said Lilia's school counselor.