Like the United States, Brazil is a country made of immigrants. Our foundation lies on the miscegenation of native Brazilians, Portuguese colonizers, and Africans that came to work on sugar cane plantations

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“Welcome to the United States of America.” For me, those words meant: You belong here, welcome to the rest of your life.

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The expectations of what I could accomplish and the fight required for me to access the opportunities were much more challenging for me as a black immigrant

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My story is one of hard work and inspiration from my father and grandfather.

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While my American Dream is still a work in progress, it has afforded me great opportunities in life: my family is not struggling financially; my children are proud of their heritage and are excelling in school; and I am reaching out to help people behind me.

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The things my parents sacrificed and the choices they made are the figurative “shoulders” I stand on, which I’m proud to say have helped achieve their hope for their kids: living the American Dream.

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Their transition to America would not be as smooth as they had anticipated; they would encounter discrimination, depression, and world war. Yet in their own way, they strove to help build the kind of America that had initially called them.

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That’s the American Dream to me: an opportunity. And people are still crossing the Straits of Florida on rafts because of the promise these opportunities hold in our country.

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Establish a specific plan with precise goals that challenge what you and others, even family or friends, might believe impossible and drive your desired results. Remember “Can’t never could,” “Nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream,” and that many will not agree with what you say or do. Say and do anyway.

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I was brought up to view America as the land of opportunity, where hard work and determination pay off. I was taught that it is not where you come from or what schools you attended that matters in getting ahead. Instead, brains, energy, character, and determination are what count most, as well as the leadership to see opportunity in adversity and go when others are reluctant to.

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