Thank you so much for following my story over the past couple of days! I have one final first day to tell you about – my first day as a teacher.

I joined Teach for America right out of college and I was so excited to make a difference. I had no idea that 120 kids were about to change my life.

My first few days at Green Valley Ranch High School showed me I had a lot to learn about teaching. But I also quickly realized how important my job was, and how rewarding it was to work with students.

My school was in a heavily Latino community and, at first, my students often asked me, “Are you really Mexican?” They’d never had a Latino teacher before or a teacher that spoke Spanish at home, just like their families.

During my time at Green Valley Ranch, my community nominated me for the Obama administration’s Champions of Change award. I got the one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to the White House and have the award presented to me by my father and little brother.

I was so proud to be honored as one of the first 40 DACAmented teachers – teachers who had come to this country as children, without legal status, and were now giving back.

It was also during this time that I met Mike Johnston. As one of the 2016 fellows in the Urban Leaders Fellowship program (ULF), I worked with Mike to learn about his work as an elected official and to apply what I learned to my own community.

One of the most memorable moments from ULF was when Mike gave us a tour of the state capitol in Denver. He told us about how, six years before the ASSET bill passed, he had tried to pass a similar bill giving in-state tuition to undocumented students. Some of his students were awaiting the outcome of the vote on a bench in the capitol building and, at 1am, he had to come and tell them he didn’t have the votes.

I still remember my own experience of that vote. I had watched it happen online and felt so defeated. It felt like the government had told students like me that we didn’t matter.

Growing up undocumented, I often didn’t feel like I had anyone in my corner. But Mike always made it so clear to me that my experience was important, that my struggle had taught me so much that was worth sharing.

I believe that every Coloradoan student should have someone like Mike in their corner. As governor, Mike would be able to keep fighting for access to college, for public education, and for all Coloradoan students.

My story is proof that there is so much good that he can do. Donate today to help elect Mike as Colorado’s next governor.

Thanks so much for listening!

— Marissa