The Charter Blog

Navigating Immigration Status and College Applications Isn't Easy

Navigating Immigration Status and College Applications Isn't Easy

Barbara Ferreira, a graduating senior at City on a Hill Charter School has made her way from Brazil, to Boston, and will be making her next stop at Northeastern University on a full scholarship. How did this journey begin? When Barbara was just two years old her family came to America to live the American Dream. However, Barbara says that she was not confident in school and struggled to keep up. That narrative began to change when her mother became a housekeeper for a couple that encouraged her and helped her to see her potential. “They helped me a lot, telling me how the school system works here in Boston,” Barbara said. 

That support was reinforced with a change at school. Barbara transitioned from a traditional public school to City on a Hill Charter School in high school. Her teachers recognized early on that she was struggling with the transition, but didn't have the confidence to ask for help. The teaching staff worked to develop close relationships with Barbara, giving her a safe space to learn and ask questions. They quickly realized that she had a lot of potential.

Unfortunately, Barbara's challenges weren't over yet. When her parents separated, her father attempted to have her, her mother, and her sister sent back to Brazil. While a compassionate judge helped her family remain in the United States, there were still significant immigration issues to work out. WIth out citizenship, Barbara is ineligible for most financial aid and worried that she would not be accepted to any of the 15 colleges that she applied to. Yet, her charter school helped her though. Diana Mastrocola, Barbara's guidance counselor at City on a Hill helped her navigate her immigration status and the transition from high school to college.

Not only was Barbara accepted into Northeastern University with a scholarship, she was also her high school class valedictorian. She plans to major in entrepreneurship and innovation and her family could not be prouder.  

"I’m very proud. I see that she has a vision that we don’t really have in our small family,” Cacia Oliveira, Barbara's mother said in Portuguese, as her daughter translated. “I believe in her; I believe that she can conquer all.”

Barabara's story was originally featured in The Boston Globe. Thank you to City on a Hill Charter School for sharing this with us.

Click to Tweet: Navigating immigration status and high school at the same time  #30DaysOfGrad


This month, thousands of high school students will graduate from charter schools across the county. We are so impressed by everything that these students have accomplished and can’t wait to see what the future holds. Check back here every day to see a new charter school graduate in our 30 Days of Grad series. Want to share your story? Join the conversation using #30DaysOfGrad.

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