Francisco Rodriguez told a tough story with a smile and charm.
He came to Olympia yesterday to testify in favor of The Dream Act (House Bill 1817), by Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila and co-sponsored by Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger.
The legislation is aimed at making college more affordable for undocumented students like Francisco, who's studying computer science at Eastern Washington University.
Francisco graduated from Sunnyside High School with a 3.7 GPA and struggled to pay for college.
"When I first started college," he told lawmakers on the committee, "I only had $3,000 in my pocket."
That money quickly ran out during his second quarter of studies at Eastern.
So he went back home to Sunnyside to pick cherries. His father also worked long hours picking in the fields, all to save up enough money to send Francisco back to college.
"I slept on couches," Francisco said. He got food from friends.
Then he got a $10,000 scholarship from Google, and another scholarship from Microsoft, and he hopes to intern at one of those companies.
The Dream Act, he told lawmakers, would help students like himself get the opportunity to finish school. The legislation would make undocumented students eligible for the state need grant, just like other college students in the state who can't afford to pay tuition out of pocket.
Francisco wasn't alone. The hearing room in Olympia was packed with supporters of the bill, with 110 people signed up to testify in favor of the bipartisan bill and zero signed up to testify against it.
Read this story in Spanish.