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Outstanding Dreamer - José Eduardo Morales-Martinez

Born in Mexico City, Mexico, José and his two siblings grew up traveling with his dad’s circus watching him perform as an animal tamer, acrobat, and clown. After family members, who were living in Greenville, mentioned how ideal the community was to raise children, José immigrated with his mother to the Greenville community. Regardless of leaving Mexico at a young age, José is passionate about his Mexican heritage, reading the history of his people, and honoring their resilient ability to make “something out of nothing.”

As a young student, he always had adults and mentors who believed in him, including neighbors and teachers. He became a first-generation high school and college graduate. Now after earning a Bachelors of Science from Furman University, José aspires to motivate others, especially children, to pursue healthier lifestyles that focus on all spectrums of wellness. He seeks to promote healthier initiatives, motivate others towards a healthy future, and lessen the influence of habits that increase chronic diseases.

Everything about José is full of confidence and a sense that he belongs right where he is. It’s surprising to know that, because of his DACA status, his future path in the US is far from certain. Perhaps this contrast is explained by his attitude about the situation:

My DACA status is just another label…Am I Mexican because it’s on a piece of paper or because I am proud of it and try to live up to it? Am I Student Support Specialist because it is my job title or because I encourage my students to work hard in school and in life to make their lives incredible. I am proud to be DACA, it fuels me to show others, “HECK YEA I can do it, do anything I put my mind into great, and let me show you I can!

Just like the resilient spirit of his ancestors, José proudly carried this perseverance into the US, and now into his future. He believes that contributing to his community is in doing “small stuff” – translating for new English speakers, cooking for friends, reading to children, and being visible in the community. DACA doesn’t seem to figure into his equation, or subtract from what he and his peers can accomplish.

I believe we cannot wait to be given a chance. We have to make those opportunities to contribute…Waiting for someone to give us the permission to contribute will delay the impact we can make already. Small movements fuel big changes.



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