DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Santiago Potes is one of the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients currently living in the United States. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It's a program that offers protections for young people who arrived in the U.S. without legal documentation.
NOEL KING, HOST:
Santiago's parents moved to Miami from Colombia when he was 4. Now he's a graduate of Columbia University in New York. And he is also the first ever Latino DACA recipient to be awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
SANTIAGO POTES: I just couldn't believe it. I was just like - I just thought that they were going to call me and say, oh, actually, you know, we made a mistake. Sorry about that. You - we actually didn't choose you.
GREENE: That is Santiago. And, yes, they did choose him. Santiago says his love for learning really took off when he was elected for a gifted and talented class in his elementary school.
POTES: It was just such a rigorous - very, very rigorous - education, like, elementary school education. It was kind of like an intellectual boot camp for elementary school students.
KING: Marina Esteva taught that class. And she became Santiago's mentor. She told us that he was a star student.
MARINA ESTEVA: He was a very compassionate, caring, cooperative - he was always helping his classmates. And, I mean, he has qualities that, right now, as an adult, I can see him, you know? That little boy's flourished into what he is now. So I am very happy to have been part of his life.
KING: Her classroom offered Santiago more than an education.
POTES: She really kind of became my first maternal figure. Both my parents were really young when they had me. They were 16 years old. And I just felt, like, certain, like, respect and also, I guess, a sense of safety coming from this woman who just went out of her way to teach me a rigorous education. And I'm really - yeah. I'm just - I'm so happy that she thinks I'm heading in the right direction.
GREENE: That direction will take him to the University of Oxford in the U.K. for a master's degree in international relations. Santiago then plans to come home.
POTES: I want to be a national security expert working at the Department of State or working as a counselor to a senator. Yeah. I want to use my academic research to help the United States, ultimately.
KING: Santiago Potes, the first Latino DACA student to win a Rhodes Scholarship.
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