Alex Medrano was 11 years old when his mother brought him to the United States from Mexico in search of a better education, an opportunity Medrano fast took advantage of. By his sophomore year of high school, he was taking college classes, and by graduation he had 62 hours of college credit and was tutoring peers in algebra and trigonometry. His mother, who had fled a violent husband, single-handedly supported her two children by cleaning houses.
Medrano’s goal was to become an electrical engineer. He enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington after high school, but had to drop out due to financial barriers. To help fund college and support his family, Medrano began working as a teller at Wells Fargo. As he advanced—he became a personal banker after just eight months—he developed a new focus: helping people in the community improve their financial situation.
“One of my biggest passions is helping people who don’t realize they can do so much with their lives, to buy a house or build credit,” Medrano says. “I love getting them through the process. It’s amazing how much you can change a life.”
Medrano—who has since re-enrolled in school—now advises small businesses and entrepreneurs on launching their projects. He also volunteers financial planning advice to members of the Hispanic Contractor’s Association and the Dallas Chamber of Commerce.
“Since 2014, I’ve been creating a little bit of a career,” he says. Medrano is now leaning toward more community-oriented work. “I volunteer at a food pantry and attend city council meetings to share updates with my customers. I would love to work for a nonprofit and educate people in need about their finances.”
Unfortunately, Medrano’s ability to continue offering his financial services could be at risk. Medrano is one of more than 226,000 Texans who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that provides qualifying undocumented immigrants brought here as children with temporary legal status but that is slated to end in March 2018.
“We want to develop ourselves here and make this country better,” Medrano says. “If we lose that opportunity, there’s a lot of potential lost.”