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Student helps others become citizens with Dream Together scholarship

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Problem solving is a skill Ana Gonzalez learned early in life.

"It's just like, when you're little, you do what your parents tell you to do and if they're going to bring you to another country, you don't have a choice," said Gonzalez. "I lived in Mexico for nine years. I lived over there and my parents, they were here, working to bring my sister and I here."

The 17 year-old attends the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders where the focus is on solving problems. She still remembers her first day of school, in the fourth grade.

"I cried in the cafeteria. I had my taco, but I was so embarrassed to eat my taco because everyone was eating the food from there."

Overcoming hurdles is her thing though.

"When I came here they told my mom that because I didn't know English and maybe because of my age, they were going to drop me a grade and I didn't want that," she said.

So she learned English at lightning speed and passed the all-English version of the TAKS test two years later.

"I am in the process of becoming a U.S. Citizen...but, I am...legally here," Gonzalez said.

Ana is a permanent resident of the United States, but some of her friends don't have the means to apply for proper documentation.

"The cost of the application fee is $465 per person. For many of our families, that is groceries for a month," said Jeanne Goka, the Ann Richards School principal.

"A box or something comes saying, social security number or if you're a resident or U.S. citizen...when it comes to those questions we're like, that's the only problem," Gonzalez said.

You can have good grades, play sports and participate in extracurricular activities, but none of that qualifies you for federal financial aid.

"I know I have the opportunities to get more money for my friends, but I was like, how are they going to do it? I wanted to help them," Gonzalez said. "I wanted to start with T-shirts...but I'm not that creative...and I have a friend that she is really, really good at it, so I asked her to do it."

"She had a great idea, but she knew who to tap into to make it happen and that's just exactly what a leader should do, you know, take that vision and make it real," added Goka.

They've sold 200 shirts since December.

"I never even imagined to sell like 100, so, it's cool," Gonzalez said.

Goka said, "Austin's a generous community and they wanted to make sure these girls go to college."

"Originally, it was just gonna be one girl and a scholarship to help for the dream act...I wanted this to be, I guess, for Congress and Obama to know that there's other people also working for it, to help other dreamers," Gonzalez said.

That's the other thing they teach at Ann Richards...teamwork.

They've raised enough money for several "Dreaming Together" scholarships and Ana has even challenged her underclass women to keep it going next year.

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