The same day that Crockett High School valedictorian Mayte Lara sent out a tweet revealing both her 4.5 GPA and undocumented status, another Texas high school valedictorian stood up in front of her graduating class and identified herself as “one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of the United States.”
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Larissa Martinez of McKinney Boyd High School outside of Dallas used her speech as an opportunity to deliver a series of “unexpected realities” about her situation to her peers. Although Martinez will be on her way to Yale in the fall, she is still in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen after fleeing her alcoholic father and moving to Texas from Mexico City with her mother six years ago.
“Despite not having internet, a washing machine or even my own bed, I always had knowledge at my fingertips,” Martinez said of school, which she called a “safe haven.”
Martinez also alluded to a certain Republican presidential candidate during her speech, saying, “America can be great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice.”
Although she admitted to WFAA to feeling nervous about the speech right up until its delivery, she only takes a second to pause and breathe before saying, “After all these years I have finally mustered up the courage and stand before you to share a struggle that I’ve had to deal with each and everyday,” and revealing her status as an undocumented immigrant.
“I realized,” Martinez’s mother told WFAA, “Yeah, that’s what we are. That’s what you are. That’s your story.”
Martinez ended her speech by saying, “They told me I couldn’t. So, I did.” You can watch Martinez’s full speech, here.
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