Health care struggles lead this DACA beneficiary to pursue a career in Medicine

Denise Rojas (center) has helped several undocumented youth enroll in medical school. (Photo via CNN)

For Denisse Rojas, a 26-year-old undocumented student who grew up in California, the scariest time of the year was the holiday season.

In an interview with CNN, Denisse recalled how she feared her family would be stopped, detained, and possibly deported if they were stopped by local law enforcement for driving without a driver’s license.

However, that was not Denisse’s only fear. A lack of health insurance, a type of coverage that most undocumented immigrants are unable to obtain, eventually forced Denisse’s parents to leave the United State for Canada — where Denisse’s mother would seek medical treatment. Denisse was effectively separated from her family.

Recognizing the challenges undocumented immigrants face in access to adequate healthcare, Denisse decided to pursue a career in medicine and a Master’s degree in public policy after graduating from U.C. Berkeley and benefiting from President Obama’s DACA program in 2012.

Speaking with CNN, Denisse declared her love for the United States and added that “this is home and I just hope to change the rhetoric about immigrants in this country and that others can see how much immigrants contribute.”

Denisse became first undocumented student to enroll at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where she is pursuing her MD, was recently recognized by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein for her achievements, and became a recipient of the Soros Fellowship for New Americans earlier this year.

DACA has allowed Denisse, and other medical students like her, to pursue their passions in medicine and public policy.

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