“The New York Times” covers his story of struggle as an undocumented immigrant who is now realizing his aspiration to be a licensed teacher.
After graduating from Adelphi University with a bachelor’s in mathematics and then, in 2008, with a master’s in education, Juan Carlos Pérez ’07, M.A. ’08, intended to teach.
But there was a hitch. As an undocumented immigrant, he was unable to obtain a teaching license in New York state.
Pérez came to the United States in 1977 from Tlaxcala, Mexico, when he was 11 and settled in Corona, Queens. He found encouragement from his high schools teachers when he was struggling and aspired to one day teach in his own classroom.
After graduating from Adelphi he worked in restaurants, passed out business cards for a car service company and spent five years as a substitute teacher at the Union Square School due to his legal status.
At last, Pérez has the opportunity to fulfill his dream, thanks to the recent decision by the New York Board of Regents stating that certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children can apply for professional teaching certificates and for licenses in 57 professions.
“I had already waited five years to be in the classroom. I wanted to teach.” Pérez told The New York Times about being persistent in achieving his goal.
Pérez now plans to submit his application for a professional license and is already taking classes for his certification test.
He tells his students now, “I remember what it was like when I was in your place. I know it seems really tough, and sometimes impossible, but it can be done.”
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