Julissa's Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    Dreamers

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    Las Vegas, NV

JULISSA ARCE

Activist / Author
My (Underground) American Dream

“If I wasn't going to achieve my dreams, it wasn't going to be because I didn't try.”

INTERESTS:

Business Numbers

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Opportunity Perseverance Risk Success Choices Courage Confidence Hard Work Individualism Fulfillment Beliefs & Faith Conflict Fear Struggle Money & Financial Security

FOUNDATION:

Accomplishing Goals

TAGS:

ambition, anxiety, choice, dream, fear, giving up, identity, immigrant, integrity, knowledge, mentor, mentors, sacrifice, sacrifices, self esteem, sharing stories, skills, stigma, try something, undocumented

BIOGRAPHY:

  • She originally came to the U.S. when she was 11 on a tourist visa; when she was 14, that tourist visa expired, but she remained.
  • She knew she was undocumented, but she didn’t know how much that would affect her life.
  • Paid her way through the University of Texas, Austin by running a funnel cake stand, but when that was shut down by the city of San Antonio, she realized she’d need to find new employment.
  • Finding a new job meant she’d have to buy fake papers—which scared her—but she didn’t want to give up, move back to Mexico, and lose out on all her hard work.
  • Instead, she decided that she wasn’t going to let her lack of papers define her; instead, she’d be defined by her hard work, ambition, and intelligence.
  • She got a job at prestigious Wall Street firm, Goldman Sachs, and steadily rose through the ranks; however, the stress of her secret kept gnawing away at her, and she eventually quit.
  • After seeing Jose Antonio Vargas’ documentary, Undocumented, she decided to speak out about her own story, quickly gaining national fame.
  • In 2015, she became an American citizen, but she still acts as an advocate for immigration reform, recently penning a book about her struggles called My (Underground) American Dream.

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