He's a Dreamer: Undocumented student graduates from UCSF medical school
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Making it through medical school is hard enough. It is even tougher when you are an undocumented immigrant worrying what could happen to you or your family.
"As an undocumented person there is always risk of being deported and especially in the current election. That risk has only increased," said Jirayut Latthivongskorn.
Latthivongskorn goes by the nickname "New." Born in Bangkok, "New" just became the first undocumented student to ever graduate from the UC San Francisco School of Medicine. He even received the prestigious gold-headed cane, awarded by the faculty and fellow med students for best exemplifying the qualities of a physician.
"I am incredibly proud and humble to be here," he said.
In 1999 when new was nine years old, his parents decided to move their family to the U.S. because of economic hardships in Thailand. They came on a tourist visa and never left.
"We didn't talk to anyone about it. We really tried to keep hush hush because of that fear."
They settled in Milpitas and later moved to Sacramento.
"They got jobs as a waiter and waitress. They hoped by making this move our family would have a brighter future," he said.
New later became part of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for children of parents in the U.S. Illegally. That program is currently in limbo. He plans to become a family physician, working in downtrodden communities.
He hopes his story can inspire others to achieve their dreams, even though his immigration status could cloud his future.
"I would rather live looking forward and being hopeful, then to be paralyzed by the uncertainty of what could happen," he said.