NOE ARRIVED IN the United States after a treacherous two-month journey to flee El Salvador. He hiked through the jungle, rode on top of trains, slept on the streets of Mexico City, and trekked through the desert. Eventually he made it to San Francisco.
When Noe enrolled in high school, he discovered a passion—and a valuable talent—for chemistry and calculus. I met Noe at College Track, an organization that supports underserved youth through high school and college, where I’m a counselor and mentor. Noe graduated with a 4.2 GPA and was accepted to UC Berkeley. He graduated from there a year ago with a degree in architecture and economic policy, having benefited from California’s commitment to provide undocumented students with access to financial aid. But instead of beginning his career as an architect, he is working as an apartment manager in exchange for rent—because his undocumented status bars him from putting that world-class education to work for his community.