Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca grew up as an undocumented teenager in Southern California and had a pretty normal life — she spoke English fluently, studied hard, and dreamed of going to college. In 2008, Salamanca went to a workshop on how to acquire student grants and loans and found out that she couldn't apply for federal aid because she lacked legal status. So instead of going to college, Salamanca did what many other undocumented students had to — work. Like many immigrants, Salamanca believed that the only path to stability for her family relied on her gaining a good education and eventually a well-paying job. Since she couldn't go to college, Salamanca cleaned homes and took care of children to make enough money. But Salamanca hadn't given up her dream to go to college, she worked harder and eventually got to attend and graduate from Cañada College in 2015.
After going through such an experience, Salamanca wanted to be able to do something for all those DREAMers out there who were unaware that they couldn't attend college in the future or didn't have the means to attend when they did later find out that they weren't eligible for financial aid — a total of 2.1 million students in the U.S. That's where her app Dreamers RoadMap comes into play. The non-profit app helps to organize scholarships that are available locally and nationally for undocumented students across the country. The app allows users to narrow down the different types of scholarships available to them by selecting where they live, whether they are a recipient of DACA, along with other characteristics. Salamanca's vision is to "bring hope to all those students who think there is no path for them after high school to continue their higher education". She and her team want to be able to bridge the gap of lack in financial aid when transitioning to college for all undocumented students.
Salamanca's dream has earned a lot of recognition and awards. She has received two House of Representatives Awards, in 2014, she was named the Champion of Change at the White House, and was ranked #25 in Forbes 2016 list of 30 under 30: Education. In 2017, Salamanca received the award for Forbes Mexico: 100 Most Powerful Women 2017, the Ohtli Award: Highest honor given by the Mexican award to Mexican citizens in the exterior, and the Agents of Change: Univision, Premios Juventud.
Salamanca has helped thousands of students already since she first released her app and she will continue to advocate for DREAMers until they are given the same rights and equality as naturally born citizens of the U.S.