Guest Column

After seeing most Mexican women in my family divorced, abandoned and without a solid career to support themselves, I decided my ticket to secure a better economic future would be an education.

I came to this country as a teenager. I was visiting my mother when I decided not to return to the University in Mexico. She was living here legally in the United States, but not doing so well economically. So I remained, and started working with her cleaning houses. It was honest work, but our life here was vulnerable and scary, because I overstayed my tourist visa. Besides helping my mother, I only had one other goal in my mind: to get the computer science degree I had just begun to study for in Mexico. But the money you make from cleaning houses is not much, and we could not afford the non-resident tuition.

Then, the California Supreme Court and the Cal State University system gave me my big break. The Court decided that undocumented immigrants are eligible for in-state tuition rates at the state's colleges and universities, and didn't have to pay the higher rates charged to those who live out of state. I was accepted to finish my degree at the Cal State University, East Bay campus in 1990 paying in-state tuition rates

I graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's in computer science and 3.8 GPA. As soon as I graduated, I got a job as an engineer at Silicon Graphics, working on the help line and supporting manufacturing. Knowing that I am indebted to this wonderful country, I gladly pay considerable taxes, which I hope will be used to help others as I was once helped.

SB 742, a bill providing in-state tuition to motivated, high-achieving students, is critical for the State of Oregon. We have young people who want to get ahead, and who are eager to give back to our country. SB 742 would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at Oregon University System schools, requires them to have attended and Oregon high school for at least three concurrent years, and to have graduated from an Oregon high school. It requires students to have been admitted to an Oregon University, and to be actively working towards U.S. citizenship. And the passage of this bill costs almost nothing. In fact, there is no fiscal impact to the schools, as determined by the Oregon University System.

Today I still work in high tech, now at an Oregon company where I have worked for the last 15 years. I speak to middle school girls on the importance of math and science, which the United States needs for success in the future. I am deeply involved in my community, my new country where my children have been born, and support my church.

This country gave me the opportunity to get ahead, opened its arms to me. So let us not turn our backs on the children in our midst. Not just for their future, but also for ours.

Lupita Maurer lives in Aloha.

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