Mayte Lara, Crockett High School’s valedictorian, didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary when she tweeted Friday about her academic accomplishments. But one bit of information in the tweet — that fact that she is an undocumented immigrant — set off a social media firestorm this week.
In the tweet, Lara wrote “Valedictorian, 4.5GPA, full tuition paid at UT, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and I’m undocumented,” also including the emojis for a medal, the Mexican flag, the Hook ’em sign and a graduation cap.
In an exclusive interview with the American-Statesman, Lara said, “The reason I posted that tweet was to show others that you can accomplish anything, regardless of the obstacles you have in front of you. It is a common trend on Twitter to highlight your success through a tweet like that, and I saw many other students from across the country doing the same and sharing the things they’d overcome, so I thought I’d share mine.
“I, of course, didn’t think it would receive all this attention,” Lara said. “At first it was receiving a lot of nice and supportive comments, but just like with anything, you’re going to have people who take it the wrong way and comment harsh thing. After seeing all the harassment going around, I thought it was best to just deactivate my Twitter, in attempts to ignore the harmful comments. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Twitter, I’ve realized that social media is filled with so many mean people, who always have something to say. But I just want everyone to understand that my tweet wasn’t made to mock anyone.”
Indeed, comments have flooded in since the tweet went viral. Here’s a sample of some sentiments from the American-Statesman’s Facebook page:
- Carrie Soukup: “You may not have meant to mock, but you certainly did. Welcome to being an adult – this is no longer high school. This is one of many lessons that you didn’t learn from the books that you studied.”
- Sarah T Fischer: “Adulthood usually doesn’t involve threats from racists. She did it legally and no matter what being valedictorian is a huge accomplishment. Lara has Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status, an immigration policy that calls for deferred action for certain undocumented young people who came to the United States as children to work and study in the U.S. legally.”
- Tim Banks: “The only lesson she learned is that some adults still act like children.”
- Brenda Alvarado: “I took this as public statements/actions have public repercussions, and I do think it’s a lesson learned. Good for her on her successes.”
- David Lane: “No, it was meant to mock. Whatever your position on immigration, undocumented isn’t an achievement.”
- Karla Hughes: “… Is that everybody gets offended by everything that you say on social media. Do your thing girl and ignore them.”
- Steve Guillot: “While for some people, this is is about racism, it isn’t for a lot of us, including me who adopted two Hispanic children (now grown). For me it is the same as a lot of other issues: a government that passes ridiculous laws but then only enforces them selectively. She should be given a reasonable path to citizenship but then should either pursue it or be deported. But the path as it stands now makes it virtually impossible to do it.”
- Ani Stubbs: “Yes she has stolen. EVERY minute that a teacher spent with her was a theft.”
- Margaret Benson Alsobrook: “Her tweet was an insult to all the families of legal citizens that will attend college by going into debt. Apparently another way that illegals get more benefits than those here legally.”
- Kimberly De La Garza: “Its great that she’s so dedicated and intelligent, but the snarky ‘undocumented’ comment just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”
- Angelica De Leon Mata: “Don’t apologize to anyone. Brag all you want. You did an outstanding job!”
- Aaron Vincent: “She’s only sorry it went viral and backfired.”
Watch Lara’s commencement speech below.