My American story started when my father received a Visa lottery ticket enabling him to immigrate from Havana with my mother. They arrived in Lansing in February, 1999, nine months before my birth. Growing up, we lived in a run-down working-class neighborhood and we survived thanks to the Vincent de Paul Society. My father worked two jobs days and nights and I learned English watching Blue's Clues and Arthur on the TV. On the first day of school at Holy Cross, which no longer exists, my last name was "Morales-Ponce." After school that day, my name was legally changed to "Morales" and my parents became U.S. citizens. They told me America is the country of opportunity, where I can be someone and make a life for myself. Even as a child, I could grasp that they had sacrificed so much, left so much behind for my sake.