By Stephanie Abrego
Christopher Yik was born in Cambodia and he migrated to the US when he was a small child. When he was growing up, he always felt alienated because he never quite found another individual like himself; an immigrant from Cambodia. Everybody usually was a Mexican immigrant or Central American of that sort. So when he went into a DACA workshop, he found himself amongst many Mexican immigrants and him being the only Cambodian immigrant. Eventually, he did get US citizenship but the feeling of being different did stay with him. The reason is because, the media, TV, everywhere you look for news, they mainly speak about people from Latin America or Mexico migrating to the US illegally. They fail to recognize other races immigrate to the US illegally, too.
Christopher attended community college for five years. Within those five years he attended Pasadena City College, Compton Community College(now known as Cerritos Community College) and East Los Angeles Community College. “I honestly felt like I was never going to transfer. I got so comfortable being in that position I was in, I was also frustrated because some of the schools didn’t have any more room for what I wanted to take. I didn’t know what I wanted to be.” While he was attending ELAC, he was taking many courses he didn’t necessarily need until he met his teacher, Mr. Chavez, who advised him to transfer since he saw potential in Chris. So throughout the transferring process, this same teacher helped him through it all. He applied to UCLA, USC, UC Santa Cruz, and a few other big schools. He later found out he got into all of them.
“I found out I first got into UCLA before USC so I was like, I’m going to UCLA! Then I found out I got into USC and I said yes!! I always dreamt of going to USC.” He was so happy when he was reminiscing about this moment in his life.
He exclaims that also with the help of the research internship he was a part of, he has had all the opportunities possible now. Professor Terriquez, the head of the research teams in collaboration with UC Santa Cruz and The California Endowment, has helped him seek better opportunities for him to further excel. He is currently working temporarily at ELAC’s transfer center but also continues to do paid research work around his community which is Long Beach on specific non profit organizations who are there to help the community in some shape or form, from healthcare to how to apply to college being a “dreamer”/DACA student. He recently finished writing an annual report on Long Beach’s non profit organizations impact on the community.
This internship recently finished but throughout the state of California, folks from San Diego all the way to Sacramento have worked together on surveying their communities and writing reports that are given to the California Endowment to see which communities need better funding/grants towards programs that will benefit mainly youth, their families, and the generations after.