Ricardo’s education story: Wherever learning flourishes, so do people

“Without Access To Education, You’re Depriving People Of Freedom.”

A NOTE FROM PEARSON CEO JOHN FALLON: President Trump is considering rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the US. Started in 2012, this program allowed 800,000 young people, who came to the US without documentation as children, the basic opportunity to work and study without the threat of deportation. About 200,000 of these DREAMers, like Ricardo, are currently enrolled in higher education.

Pearson stands with the DREAMers. That’s why we’re signing the FWD.us letter from Leaders of American Industry. It calls for President Trump to preserve the DACA program and Congress to enact bipartisan legislation that provides these young people with a permanent solution to gaining citizenship.

(This note was published prior to the administration’s announcement about DACA)

Barriers to education

Ricardo starts the story of his life this way: “Education is the biggest tool that anyone can possess.”

Getting that education tool has been a challenge.

Ricardo and his family came to the U.S. from Mexico without documents when he was nine.

They were looking for a safer life, away from gangs and violence in their community.

His older sister soon applied to colleges with a stellar transcript—she was accepted, but was not able to receive federal financial aid because of her immigrant status.

“It really affected my academics,” Ricardo says. “If she couldn’t get through college, what makes me think I’m going to succeed?”

Becoming an activist

Ricardo’s sister wouldn’t let him give up.

She told him she would take care of their parents—but he must go to college.

He pressed on, becoming an activist along the way.

Ricardo testified before the Oregon legislature in support of a program that now entitles immigrants to in-state tuition and access to financial aid.

Risking exposure to his status, he told lawmakers:

I only qualify for a handful of scholarships, not because of my academic merit, but because I am not allowed to apply for any in-state financial aid. The amount of scholarship funding I receive does not cover the necessary expenses of a full-time student. I am currently a full-time employee at a not-profit law firm as an immigration paralegal and I still don’t earn enough money to fully support myself. Being a full-time employee and a full-time student can drain you emotionally and physically. I fear that this financial burden will affect my performance in the classroom.

A passion

Ricardo has since graduated with an Associate Degree of Science from Rogue Community College and moved on to Southern Oregon University where he’s pursuing a business degree.

He also part of the Pearson Students program, advising the company’s product teams during the development of new learning products and services. (He’s even using Pearson’s MyMathLab and MyAccountingLab during his coursework at SOU.)

“My barriers now drive my passion,” he says.

He wants to become an attorney to help other immigrants navigating the same issues in education.

“The only progress immigrants have ever made is because they’re educated,” Ricardo says.

“And it only takes one person to change the world.”