Dayana graduated from George Mason University in 2017 with a 3.5 GPA in computer science. Although she had earned ‘full ride’ scholarships to five universities based on her stellar high school record and scores, due to her status as an undocumented immigrant prior to DACA in 2012, she was ineligible to use the scholarships. Instead she worked throughout her college experience to help pay her ever-mounting expenses.

At age 10, Dayana and her family migrated from Columbia to the United States, where she learned that she and her family were considered ‘illegals.’ She learned to navigate this new world, new language, and new customs, away from her extended family and support system of twenty-seven cousins Eventually, she made new friends and became an outstanding high school student, a Varsity Cheerleader and a National Honor Society member. Dayana’s financial stress was alleviated in 2014 when DACA was signed, and DACA students in Virginia became eligible for in-state tuition.

Today, Dayana is employed as a junior software developer at Gannet, the largest US newspaper group and parent company of USA Today and over one hundred other newspapers. She and her husband, whom she met through a co-ed professional engineering fraternity, own a home and are active, productive members of our society. Dayana and her husband are now giving back to the Dream Project by supporting two Dream Project named scholarships.

Dayana will soon become a naturalized US citizen and finally overcoming the pervasive sense that she doesn’t belong here in the United States, despite it being her home for most of her life. She looks forward to her bright future and is proud to continue to contribute her talents to support the STEM needs of our country.