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Ricardo Campos was just 12 when he landed in Los Angeles from his native El Salvador. He and his family fled aggressive unions threatening to kill his father, and for the first time in a while he felt secure knowing that nobody would break into his house in the middle of the night. Today, as a 26-year-old Montgomery College student, Campos has been selected as a 2018 DREAM Scholar.

Achieving the Dream’s DREAM Scholars program is an experiential learning opportunity for students from participating Achieving the Dream institutions and is designed to enhance key leadership, critical thinking, and networking skills. Nominated by their institution and chosen through a competitive national application process, recipients engage in a learning experience that culminates in attending and presenting at DREAM 2018 in Nashville, Tenn., February 20-23.

The conference features more than 2,300 leaders in higher education, public policy and philanthropy who share best practices and innovations to address the emerging needs of the field and improve results for all students, especially low-income students and students of color.

Campos is set to deliver remarks during the plenary sessions and participate in a student presentation focused on how they view the reform efforts of community colleges.

Since his first months arriving in the US, Campos confronted some extremely difficult situations. From working to support himself, starting as early as high school, to suffering through bone cancer when he was 17 years old, the odds appeared insurmountable. After cancer surgery, he struggled with bouts of depression before going back to pursue his education. He soon faced the heavy financial burden that higher education often entails, especially for undocumented students who would have had to pay international tuition rates back then.

As a student in Maryland, Campos advocated for the Maryland DREAM Act by sharing his story with state legislators and helped rally support from voters. “The ability to help organize and mobilize young adults in our state has shown me the power behind our voices,” he says.

Campos is grateful to Montgomery College for supporting the immigrant community and actively promoting the state law. He says in-state and in-county tuition have made a big difference for many.

“Over the years, I have taken classes when I could fit them around my work schedule. Currently, I support a household of six. In my work, I have fought for equal access to education for others,” Campos says. “I have returned to Montgomery College to pursue a degree in Political Science so that one day I can run for office and help people like me.”

To see Ricky’s profile on the Achieving the Dream news page, click here.

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