MIAMI LAKES (CBSMiami) - Miami Lakes Educational Center senior Giancarlo Tejeda has a secret that sets him apart from most of his classmates--he is an undocumented immigrant.
"It wasn't something I really liked talking about," Tejeda said quietly to CBS4's Natalia Zea.
Tejeda was 3-years-old when his parents brought him from Colombia to South Florida.
As he got older, he realized that his citizenship status could stop him in his path to pursue a career.
He threw himself into his studies, believing that if he could be one of the best, his future would remain bright.
Tejeda commutes two hours a day to attend Miami Lakes Educational Center to earn a certificate in computer systems.
He is graduating magna cum laude in the top 8-percent of his class.
"It was a failsafe. I didn't want to be stuck when I got to this point in my life," said Tejeda.
But I.T. is not his dream. He wants to study biomedical engineering to cure Alzheimer's disease-inspired by his own grandmother.
He's been accepted into New York University and the University of Florida.
But as an undocumented immigrant, Tejeda doesn't qualify for financial aid.
"Even though these are great colleges- how am I going to pay for them?"
"Here's a kid who is so incredibly talented, and so bright and has all of these opportunities, and not only is it that he doesn't have federal aid, he can't even get loans," Tejeda's teacher Neyda Borges told Zea.
Borges sent letters to Congress, the media, anyone who would listen to his story.
"What I'm hoping is that there are enough people in the community that see him as part of our community, that see his American dream and want to help him realize it," said Borges.
Though Tejeda won't receive financial aid, he is determined.
"It does seem like a big obstacle that I do have to overcome," Tejeda said.
Tejeda only has until May 1st to let UF and NYU know if he will accept. At this point he says he'll have to answer no.
He is accepting financial donations for tuition, books and living expenses.
If you'd like to help, click here: www.gofundme.com/rb6p5dtg
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