DACA recipient heads to Harvard Medical School

BERKELEY, Calif. -- College graduations are going on throughout the country. While there are many encouraging stories, there is one that is especially heart warming.

From crossing the United States and Mexico border as a child to enrolling in medical school at Harvard University, Luis Rivera of Concord is an inspiration.

The goals, the motivation and the prize, Rivera has had them all.

His story begins in Mexico.

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"My mom left Mexico with my step dad when I was two years old," Rivera said.

They came to live in Concord. His mother saw the value of a college education and told Rivera to think big.

"My mom would always say when you grow up you're going to Harvard. I was always pushing it aside and saying oh sure, not going to happen, but ha, ha," Rivera laughed.

His mom says she would constantly tell him he was going to be her doctor, Dr. Luis Rivera.

Right after high school, he became a DACA recipient known as a "Dreamer" which allows undocumented young adults who entered this country as children to stay and work here.

He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2017 and last year deferred medical school to help counsel immigrant students.

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"I guess now in this whole anti-immigrant environment that we live in, I decided I wanted to do something during my gap year that was going to be meaningful," he explained.

Then came the call he was waiting for. Mom was working as a house cleaner.

"I think I'm going to go to Harvard and she said, hey I'm scrubbing toilets right now, but I'm really glad that you are deciding to do that. It was a very bittersweet moment to hear that," said Rivera holding back the tears.

Getting into Harvard's Medical School is a big deal. More than 6,800 students applied and only 208 were accepted, that's about three percent. Of that number, two are Dreamers.

Mom was always right.

"I was like, Okay, let's do this," he told us as he walked off into his new life.
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