As Valeria approached her 18th birthday, she worried about her future.
While many of her friends, also recent high school graduates, looked at 18 as adulthood, freedom and college, Valeria worried she would be deported and separated from her family.
Those worries now have been eased by President Barack Obama's June 15 announcement that the government would ease rules on the deportation of undocumented immigrants brought to the country as young children.
This week, Valeria celebrated her birthday.
“It stabilized my future,” said Valeria, who asked her surname not be used to protect her family. “This was one of those things I wanted so badly ... now I'm this little fish thrown into a big pond and there's so much I can do.”
Brought to the country by her parents when she was a little more than 1 year old, Valeria didn't realize she had no Social Security number until her friends started getting driver's licenses and filling out applications for federal financial aid for college.
She watched other undocumented students give up on school, thinking there was no point if they couldn't legally work or get financial aid for college.
Valeria wanted her record to be unimpeachable.
While still in high school in 2010, Valeria was interviewed by The Oklahoman.
“What if one day they say yes I can stay here but ask for my grades to see if I deserve it?” she said at the time. “I have to do everything perfectly to have an opportunity.”
She was accepted recently to a university in the state. She plans to major in psychology.
“I'm still waiting for the day when someone asks me why I deserve papers,” she said. “I wouldn't abuse it ... I want a better standard of life and I want to work hard.”