Hazel Villatoro – opinion contributor
I graduated a year early from North High School with a 3.8 GPA.
I did everything I could to put myself on a path to success: playing varsity soccer, participating in the AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute and co-leading an Arizona Center for Empowerment initiative to increase civic engagement among high school students.
My dream was to attend Arizona State University this fall. But I can’t afford it.
As an undocumented student, I am not eligible for in-state tuition. I’m incredibly grateful to have received a full scholarship to Grand Canyon University, but not all undocumented students are as fortunate.
Each year, about 2,000 students do not qualify for in-state tuition because of their immigration status.
Proposition 308 would offer in-state tuition
In November, Arizona voters should pass Proposition 308 so that all students are eligible for the in-state tuition rate, regardless of immigration status, if they have lived in the state for two years and graduated from a local high school.
It would give talented and hardworking students a chance to fulfill their dreams of higher education and help build a well-educated workforce to keep Arizona’s economy moving forward.
My parents work hard to support our family and always instilled in me and my siblings the importance of education. My older brother and sister also graduated early from high school and attended ASU. My brother earned a bachelor’s degree in business and teaches elementary school. He is on track to finish his MBA. My sister is starting medical school and plans to become a surgeon.
My older siblings are my role models. I desperately wanted to follow them to ASU, but I could not. Although we all studied hard in high school, they were able to attend ASU and pay in-state tuition because they are U.S. citizens. I am not a citizen.
My brother and sister were born in Arizona, but I was born in Mexico when my mother went there to help with a family emergency. She brought me here when I was 1.
Arizona is the only home I’ve ever known
The only difference between me and my siblings is paperwork. Arizona is the only home I’ve ever known.
I’m an Arizona kid. I grew up just like other Arizona kids, playing soccer, taking family trips to Lake Pleasant, and going to the county fair.
I sat in dual enrollment classes where everyone was doing the same work, but my classmates received free college credits and I couldn’t even sign up. In-state tuition and all the usual doors to higher education are closed to me simply because I am undocumented.
I want to follow in my sister’s footsteps, attend medical school, and become a doctor. It’s my dream to become an anesthesiologist. But there was no way I could afford to pay nearly $40,000 per year at ASU – 50% more than students who are eligible for in-state tuition.
Voters must approve this bipartisan effort
At a time when many people seem divided, there is broad agreement about the importance of providing in-state college tuition to all Arizona high school graduates.
The effort to put Proposition 308 on the ballot was strongly bipartisan. The measure passed the Republican-led House and the Republican-led Senate and was signed by a Republican governor.
If Arizona passes Proposition 308, it will be joining 20 other states that have passed in-state tuition for “Dreamers,” including conservative-led states such as Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Undocumented students like me just want to be treated like everyone else. We want a fair shot at a good education. We want the chance to contribute to our communities, including as doctors, nurses, teachers and other professions that Arizona needs.
This fall, voters have the chance to do the right thing for us, for themselves, and for all of Arizona.
Hazel Villatoro is an incoming freshman at Grand Canyon University. Reach her at [email protected].