'I want to show that we are people of good, we do good,' says 32-year-old DACA recipient

ByYukare Nakayama via WLS logo
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
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Erick Mendoza has been a DACA recipient since the start, it's allowed him to reach his academic dreams. The uncertainty of his future is not getting in the way of his determination

RIVER FOREST, Ill. (WLS) -- By day, Erick Mendoza helps students sort out their DACA applications.

The grueling process is familiar to the 32-year-old; Mendoza has been a DACA recipient since 2012. He said the program has helped him reach his dreams.

By night, Mendoza works on his MBA in business administration at Dominican University. He once thought that reality was unreachable.

"Part of growing up as an undocumented individual, you have this notion that nothing that you do is enough," he said. "I had two failed attempts at college. I dropped out twice because of the same reason: I didn't have the documents."

"I think he's sort of admirable, the way he's able to put that aside and just work hard with faith that somehow this will all work out," said Tina Taylor- Ritzler, professor at Dominican University.

"I think it's frustrating knowing that DACA is used as a political tool and nothing more than that," Mendoza said.

What keeps Mendoza pushing towards the graduation line is not only his future, but his daughter's.

"I want to show that we are people of good and, you know, we do good."

Yukare Nakayama is a Community Journalist at ABC 7 Chicago. She tells stories on the west side of the city in neighborhoods like Pilsen, Little Village, North Lawndale and Austin. Nakayama also covers the north shore suburbs such as Highland Park and Highwood. If you have a story to share in these neighborhoods, send an email to Yukare.x.nakayama@abc.com.