Tacoma dreamer heads to White House

KING 5's Jenna Hanchard reports.

TACOMA, Wash. -- Next week, the White House will celebrate 150 students across the country who have beat the odds. Amairany Bautista of Tacoma will be one of those students.

It's part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative to encourage students to pursue education beyond high school.

As an undocumented Mexican American teenager who was raised in Tacoma, Bautista didn't know if she would make it to college. Her immigration status made it more difficult to get financial assistance.

"You can't really apply for certain scholarships. You can't get financial aid. You can't get student loans," she said.

Melody Rodriguez, her college adviser, said many undocumented students often get discouraged. Some drop out or don't apply to college.

"Living in the time that we live in when there is a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment, a lot of students feel frustrated," she said.

While Amairany faced depression, she decided to work twice as hard and landed a full ride at the University of Puget Sound.

It's because of that determination she's getting the chance to meet Michelle Obama at the White House.

"I broke barriers. I am a dreamer," said Bautista.


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