A young lady from East Palo Alto was honored in Washington D.C. along with 10 other people at an event called Champions of Change Tuesday morning.
Sarahi Espinoza, 23, came to the Bay Area from Mexico when she was 4 years old. Due to difficult family challenges she was forced to drop out of school. She later re-enrolled into college and today she attends Canada College where she is majoring in broadcast journalism, but it's her work online that's attracting attention at the White House.
Standing inside the White House must have seemed an impossibility when Espinoza learned she was an illegal immigrant.
"Again, I felt very betrayed by the country I call my home," Espinoza said.
Emotion overcame Espinoza as she shared her story at the event.
She's one of 10 DACA recipients named Champions of Change by the Obama administration.
Espinoza's family crossed over the border when she was four. She made a video about her family's story. Her parents returned to Mexico thinking they could come back.
"This year in November, it's going to be nine years that I have not seen my mom," Espinoza said.
She lived a life in the shadows, sending money to Mexico while she hoped to avoid deportation.
She applied for DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status in 2012. As one of 600,000 recipients, Espinoza became eligible to get a driver's license and a job.
"I now work for Girl Scouts of northern California, I teach environmental science and technology programs," Espinoza said.
She also enrolled at Canada College and taught herself how to program so she could build a website to educate other DACA recipients about scholarship opportunities.
"Her first impulse is to put other people first and that is pretty extraordinary," Canada College President Larry Buckley said.
DACA recipients are given a 2-year deportation deferment. The window to renew just opened.
"We are from this country and we're part of this country and we're here to make it succeed," she said.
Espinoza believes in the American dream.
White House honors East Palo Alto student at Champions of Change event