Last month I sent an email concerning DACA, its uncertain future, and the importance of passing the DREAM Act to protect the 800,000 young people pursuing education and careers in America. I never could have imagined that one of the responses I received would be from a Dreamer who has made such a positive impact on the lives of our children. With his permission, I am honored to share his story with you.
One of the more beloved teachers at our children’s school is a Dreamer. Mr. Nigoche, a 6th grade math teacher at Pin Oak, arrived in America with his mother and brother when he was 3 years old. America is the only country he knows, the only country he remembers, and he considers it his home country and Houston his hometown.
Mr. Nigoche grew up around a family whose daughters were teachers, and was always impressed by them. He attended Houston ISD schools and graduated from Reagan (now Heights) High School with the hopes of being a math teacher.
He had great grades but could not access student loans to supplement his college education due to his lack of protected legal status in America. Still, he worked and put himself through college, earning his degree from UH-Downtown.
After graduation in 2009, his lack of legal status prevented him from pursuing his dream of becoming a teacher in America. Since he couldn’t teach, he worked at Marble Slab Creamery and, through that work, also found a job at Cecil’s.
In 2012, with the implementation of the DACA program, Mr. Nigoche excitedly registered and applied for legal status with the U.S. government in order to pursue his dream of teaching. He substituted in classrooms for his first year, and then became a teacher at Pin Oak, where he is beginning his fifth-year teaching.
Mr. Nigoche was one of Delia’s (one of our twins) favorite teachers in 6th grade, and we’re excited that this year he is teaching our son, Jack. In addition to being a great teacher, he, like many teachers, contributes his own resources and time to ensure his students always have the materials and support they need to succeed in school. He has coached the boys’ soccer team to three winning seasons and has also helped Pin Oak’s UIL Academics team win District Sweepstakes three times. He even calls on his Marble Slab Creamery connections to provide his school House with a special ice cream party at the end of the year.
Mr. Nigoche shared with me that the stability and success he’s experienced at work has allowed him to recently fulfill another one of his dreams: purchasing his first home (which weathered Harvey well). He also shared that the uncertainty regarding the President’s actions and Congress’s inaction have him greatly concerned about his ability to continue pursuing the American dream in the only country he has ever called home.
Dreamers are teachers and doctors, first responders and lawyers, business owners and caregivers. They proudly serve in our military, protecting our country, their country, from harm. They are our neighbors and friends. They are our community. They are Houston. They are America.