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Testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee
Andre's speech

Thank you for letting me speak today.  I hope my testimony helps you understand the situation of many students like me. 

My name is Andres.  I am 18 years old and a senior at East Boston High School.  I am a member of East Boston Ecumenical Community Council’s youth group GOALS. 

I was born in Colombia.  My mother brought me here when I was 14 years old.  We had to flee from Colombia because of the dangerous political conditions.  Although I am not a U.S. citizen, I have grown to love and respect this country, and I would become a citizen as soon as I have the opportunity.  I am not the only one in this situation.  Many of my friends have Temporary Protected Status. Some don’t have any way to change their status. And, yet others have applied, but will have to wait 5-10 years due to the backlog at INS.  We cannot afford to go to college because we are required to pay non-resident tuition - even if we have lived in Massachusetts for most of our lives and our parents pay taxes. 

During my years at East Boston High School, I have earned a GPA of 3.5 and I have studied hard so that I could take advanced level courses such as AP Calculus and AP History.  When I took Honors Chemistry, I discovered my interest in this subject.  Last year, I was able to attend a summer program where I did a research project on extracting energy from organic waste. 

When I graduate in two months, I would like to continue my studies and pursue my dream of becoming a chemical engineer. One day my history teacher asked me why I wanted to pursue such a difficult major.  I answered him that we don’t recycle at our high school.   I told him that I care about the environment and I want to help develop a new and more efficient way to deal with the tons of waste that is created every year. 

Besides my schoolwork, I am very curious about my surroundings.  I like to read about psychology, I like to watch educational programs such as NOVA, and I enjoy developing strategies for playing chess.  As a sophomore, I won second place in my high school chess tournament.

Unfortunately, my dreams of going to college and becoming a chemical engineer are being blocked by a financial barrier.  Realistically, my mother and I cannot afford to pay the $18,000 a year for out-of-state tuition at U.Mass./Boston.  If the Massachusetts legislature were to pass the In-State Tuition Bill, my dreams of helping the environment and working to reduce pollution in Massachusetts will become a reality.  There are many students in this situation, who work hard in school and want to become professionals so that they can contribute to this country. 

 I am graduating in two months. My future lies ahead of me.  Each one of you has all of my hard work for the last four years in your hands.  If you choose to pass this bill, I will go to college in September.  Please confirm that I was right to not drop out of school because of a decision that I had no control of - my immigration status.  Please confirm that I was right to not give up the hope of going to college.  Please confirm that education is a priority in the state of Massachusetts.  The decision is your hands.  Thank you.

This testimony was given by Andres, a member of GOALS, to
 the House Ways and Means Committee at the State House on May 5, 2005.





United Way of Massachusetts