Jessica Tienda knew getting into college would be more difficult for her than other students.
“But it didn’t hit until my senior year,” the Sedalia, Mo., resident said. “I had applied for scholarships but didn’t receive them because I was undocumented.”
Jessica came to the U.S. with her parents when she was two years old. Her father was a police officer in Mexico. “He said it was starting to get dangerous, and he wanted our family to be safe,” said Jessica, who has five siblings.
As she was applying to colleges and getting turned down, a friend told Jessica about College of Saint Mary’s Misericordia Scholarship, which opens the door to education for undocumented students of diverse backgrounds who are not eligible for federal assistance. It is donor funded.
“I’m here with the scholarship at CSM,” she said.
Jessica, a sophomore, is majoring in human biology with the hopes of becoming a physician assistant.
“I always wanted to become a doctor,” she said. “I also want to have a family in the future. I feel like the PA field will offer a better work-life balance. I’ve always been interested in helping others and I feel that is a way I can.”
But Jessica knows there are some challenges ahead. She will need to get her green card in order to be licensed as a physician assistant.
“I met with one of my professors, and I explained to her that I wasn’t sure I should pursue this field if I’m going to be limited toward the very end,” Jessica said. “She said that you never know, things change and just to stay positive and don’t let go of that goal I have.”
Her professors have been great to work with, Jessica added.
“I like my professors. We get along, and we understand each other,” she said. “I feel like they can see my efforts through all of the work I put into my classes.”
In addition to her classes, Jessica has become involved in a number of activities and organizations on campus, including Student Senate, Latinas Empowering Others, Green Team, CSM Singers, and Do Unto Others. She is in her second year of Student Senate.
“I wanted to voice my opinion and listen to others outside of Senate and bring their opinions into Senate so we can form a better community at CSM,” she said.
Jessica also enjoys living on campus. “Living on campus really allows you to focus and just get things done, but then you also can form a lot of friendships,” she said. “Outside of campus, my friends and I get to have fun going to movies and different restaurants. We’ve been to a lot of hockey games.”
CSM has given Jessica the confidence that she felt she needed.
“Because it’s an all-women’s college, you just get to be yourself. I feel like I’ve gained that. I think I’ve gained the knowledge of being yourself and getting to express yourself without having to be judged,” she said. “College of Saint Mary allows you to find your inner self, either through what you learn, your passions or just the community and how everyone interacts with each other. We’re very united.”