Larissa Martinez, McKinney Boyd High School 2016 Graduation

Larissa Martinez at McKinney Boyd High School's 2016 graduation.

photo: McKinney ISD Media

Below is an open letter of support to Mayte Lara, Larissa Martinez, and the many other undocumented gradates here in the United States.

Dear Graduate,

Congratulations on graduating and receiving your diploma! This is a wonderful achievement and beginning of a new chapter in your life. The opportunities are endless as you continue to pursue your education.

It saddens me immensely that this momentous occasion may be overshadowed by negativity, criticism, and even hatred due to your immigration status. While it may seem that all your hard work and sacrifice to earn that diploma is going unnoticed, I am here to assure you it is not.

You are a role model to your parents, siblings, peers and community. You also inspire me and thousands more across the country to continue pursuing our dreams despite any adversity we may face. While we may not fully understand your struggles, we can relate to you or see our loved ones in you. For those who are in similar situations, you provide hope that anything is possible.

Remember your immigration status does not define who you are. You are a smart, talented, and beautiful individual. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. You are also now a high school graduate and soon-to-be college student. Continue working hard and pushing through the negativity.

If you ever feel like the world is against you, please know that you are not alone and there are people rooting for you to succeed. You may not see us but we are supporting you in various ways through our words and actions — by mentoring you, financial assistance, and by championing for comprehensive immigration reform. Your achievement is a testament to what makes this country so great — a land filled with opportunity.

So continue celebrating your achievement! You’ve earned the right to do so. I can’t wait for the day when you cross that stage to receive your college degree. Until then, stay strong and keep working hard. ¡Si se puede!


A Friend and Supporter

Sasha Monik Moreno is a Founding Creator and career and education blogger. When she's not sharing her advice on, you can find her at

Larissa Martinez's valedictorian speech at the 2016 McKinney Boyd High School graduation.