Jose Luis Zelaya, 24, is a Honduran immigrant, graduate student in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University, expert crocheter, and aspiring teacher, who ran for student body president. What makes his case so exceptional is the fact that he is undocumented. However, under state law, there is nothing preventing him from becoming or pursuing this position.
Zelaya did not win the election, two candidates ended up in a run-off. But it seems like Zelaya has a lot on his plate to keep him otherwise occupied.
He graduated with his bachelor’s degree last year, specializing in English as a Second Language instruction. He’s unable to work as a teacher because of the status, and has set his professional hopes on the DREAM Act.
It’s truly remarkable story, albeit it’s not the first time in undocumented student vies for the position. In 2010 Pedro Ramirez became president of the student body of California State University at Fresno. Still, the story of his journey from Honduras at the age of 14, leaving a country destroyed by Hurricane Mitch and an alcoholic father, is powerful. he was quoted recently as saying at a debate:
“I’m not running because I’m undocumented. I’m running because I’m an Aggie,” he said. “It’s just like, what if I was gay? Would they have asked me if being gay was going to play a role? If I was atheist, would they ask me those things? What does it take to be seen as a regular Aggie, not as an undocumented Aggie?”
Zelaya hopes legislation will soon allow him to enter the workforce, but he told the local newspaper The Eagle, that if he is still unable to teach once he finishes his master’s degree, he plans to pursue a doctorate.