A woman has shared her inspiring story of graduating law school, after being left homeless as a teen when her parents were deported.
Daihana Estrada was only 17-years-old when her parents were deported from Utah to Mexico because they illegally entered the country 20 years earlier.
The teen, who was born in California and therefore a U.S citizen, decided to stay in the country and move to Chicago where her older brother lived.
Though, her life still lacked stability when living with her brother.
“It was very unstable because he was with me, he was going through his own issues, so I was on my own,” she told ABC7 Chicago.
As a result, Estrada was left to fend for herself during her senior year at John Hancock College Preparatory High School.
She resorted to sleeping on her friends couch, eating popcorn when there was no food at home, and got a retail job at Best Buy to support herself.
Despite the obstacles she faced growing up, Estrada graduated from high school and was accepted to the University of Illinois at Chicago.
On top of this, she was given a full-ride and a scholarship from Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to help move into campus housing.
Her senior English teacher, Vanessa Puentes, was a vital figure for Estrada at the time who taught her important life skills.
Puentes even let Estrada stay at her own mother’s unused home when she had nowhere to live after graduating from college.
“She didn’t have a place to live. She’s lived with my family and we’ve built a very strong relationship over the past 10 years,” Puentes told ABC7 Chicago, who is now principal at the high school.
Now at 29-years-old, Estrada has recently become the first scholarship recipient to graduate from Loyola University School of Law in May.
She lives in an apartment in Pilsen, and is currently studying to take the bar exam next month.
Estrada has been invited to deliver a keynote speech at her alma matter on how she overcame the challenges she faced.
“I want to let them know every person will encounter a hardship at some point in their life, and they have the power to empower themselves because of it or let that take them down in some way,” Estrada told Chicago Sun Times.
“But I truly believe you can overcome most hardships in life, and you can find something positive about it.”