Undocumented immigrant student overcomes obstacles to earn full scholarship at Georgetown University

FOX 5's Alexandra Limon reports.

- College students are gearing up for a new school year and one young man headed to Georgetown University is sharing his very impressive story. It is a journey of success in spite of obstacles that included unemployment and homelessness for his family.

Luis Rosales is only 20 years old, and despite facing all of those challenges at a young age, he doesn’t see them as obstacles but rather as opportunities.

“I'm definitely very excited,” he said. “It's also a bit intimidating coming from a community college and going to a big four-year university.”

Rosales has a long list of personal and academic achievements. He has served on the board of a non-profit, started a chapter for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and was appointed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to the Board of Trustees at Montgomery College.

As he explained in his college in his scholarship application, Rosales’ life in the United States started out very differently as an undocumented immigrant child.

“For a while, I hesitated to tell my story like I'm doing now,” he told us. “I lived in fear.”

The boxes he is taking to college on moving day doesn't just hold clothes and shoes. They are loaded with his parents’ hopes and dreams.

“Seeking to escape the economic turmoil and gang violence erupting in our country, mama and papa left behind their lives and loved ones to give my sister and me a better life,” Rosales read from his scholarship application.

His father explained to us that the violence against children in El Salvador was incredible. Despite heading toward an uncertain future in Maryland, Rosales' mother said they put their faith in God. But for a child, that was hard to understand.

“It seemed as if their decision to immigrate was the root of our problems,” said the 20-year-old.

Problems included periods of unemployment for his parents and homelessness.

“It wasn't exactly as they had hoped – the land of opportunity wasn't all that they had expected,” Rosales said.

But he didn’t just survive it all. He thrived and excelled in spite of all those challenges. Now, he is attending Georgetown University as the recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship.

Rosales is now legally able to stay in the United States because of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under this program, he has received a social security number, a renewable work permit and is able to attend school and receive a scholarship – something he said has changed his life.

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