If you’ve ever had a question that no one seems to have the answer to, how do you figure out how to solve it? Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca was a high school student when she first realized that the only person that would be able to help her get to college was herself. As an undocumented student, Espinoza Salamanca asked a counselor what her options would be as she aimed to go to college. The counselor said that people like her didn’t go to college. She knew right there and then that she had to make her dreams come true herself.
Fast forward a few years, Espinoza Salamanca now 26 is the CEO and founder of DREAMers Roadmap, a nonprofit app that helps students pay for college through scholarships. Espinoza Salamanca was able to get her app off the ground by winning Voto Latino’s Innovator Challenge. The tech competition garnered her $100,000 and since then has helped more than 20,000 students pay for school.
— hack the hood (@hackthehood) September 25, 2018
In an interview with Forbes, Espinoza Salamanca spoke about her determination, advise she’d give entrepreneurs, and lessons she learned along the way.
“We are a country of immigrants and many of our giant companies have been founded by immigrants so why not educate our immigrants and accept them,” Espinoza Salamanca told Forbes. “We as a country are losing so much talent and potential by making it so hard to educate these students. You would think we want to be a society of the most educated people but we make it nearly impossible for these kids to have an opportunity to be an essential part of this country. This is our home too.”
Espinoza Salamanca also tells aspiring college students or people struggling to make their dreams to come true that it’s crucial to believe in themselves and never give up.
“Many times we think that by asking for help we are showing weakness and it’s a stigma that many communities of color carry therefore we stay quiet and carry that weight, like the saying ‘calladita te ves mas bonita’ or ‘you look prettier when you’re quiet.’ We shouldn’t,” Espinoza Salamanca told Forbes. “There are many people that love us and want to see us succeed. Many people that want what’s best for us and want to help but don’t know that we need the help until we ask.”
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My parents immigrated to the United States 20 years ago because it painted a picture of prosperity, renewal, and hope. They made the difficult decision to immigrate to the United States in order to provide a better and brighter future for their two little girls. I dedicate this accomplishment to my parents for the unconditional support that they have given me throughout my academic years. Despite our situation my parents collectively managed to pay for me and my sister’s university tuition debt free. As Larissa Martinez stated, “If I was able to break every stereotype based on what I’m classified as – Mexican, female, undocumented, first gen, low-income, then so can you.” In spite of all of the obstacles across the road, we have succeeded Mom and Dad! *I would also like to give recognition to the Daca program which gives me and many other dreamers the opportunity to live out our dreams. #sisepuede #immigrantswegetthejobdone #homeishere #highered #forthem #originaldreamers 📸: Quimberly F.