After weeks of being stuck in Mexico because of an immigration issue, Elizabeth Olivas, a Frankfort High School honor student, first stepped off a plane at Indianapolis International Airport on Thursday and then delivered her speech as salutatorian to her graduating class on Saturday.
It not only shows and proves how strong you are to the world if you don't prove it to the world at least prove it to yourself and to me that's winning, Olivas said in her speech to her senior class, reported WISHTV.
Only days ago, Olivas was fighting to return to the U.S. following a trip to her native country, Mexico. She was attempting to follow the proper protocol for immigration law when she went back to apply for a visa six months before her 18th birthday. However, she made an error and was one day late, reported WTHR.
Olivas had a 3.9 GPA and was a star soccer player at Frankfort High School. However, the U.S. consulate told her on April 17 that she could not apply again for a visa for three years and could not return to the U.S. because of her mistake.
Olivas moved to Indiana rom Chihuahua, Mexico, when she was only 4 years old.
I never got angry as much as I was frustrated, Olivas said at the airport when she arrived home, reported the Indianapolis Star.
While stuck in Mexico, she stayed with her grandparents and tried to make the best of her dire predicament. I went to the museum, the movies, saw some landmarks, she said.
Her uncle, Felipe Serna, 46, who lives in Indiana, said the family felt great anxiety about the situation. It was stressful for everyone, he told the Star. Sometimes they cried. They were so sad.
After hearing about Olivas' plight, the office of U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., arranged a waiver hearing, and U.S. Reps. Mike Pence and Todd Rokita, both R-Ind., sent letters to the consulate.
Olivas' lawyer, Sarah Moshe, was able to get an expedited waiver on Thursday. Olivas attended a seven-hour meeting at the consulate in Juarez and was given a travel document. Within hours, she was on her way back to Indiana.
At the graduation ceremony on Saturday, the homecoming queen and star athlete thanked her classmates for helping her return home in time for the event.
I want you all to know that a very special part of my heart is touched by all of you, and I wouldn't be there without you, the Indianapolis Star quoted Olivas as saying.
Olivas' classmate and the school's valedictorian, Chloe McLaughlin, said the ceremony would not have been the same if Olivas had not been in attendance. Without Betty, this graduation would have felt incomplete for many of us, McLaughlin said, according to the Star. We know that she deserves to be there.
McLaughlin also said she hopes the graduating class will be able to apply the passion they had in bringing Olivas home to other scenarios in their lives. I hope you will all be as passionate in life as you have been in getting Betty home this week, McLaughlin said. We are the future, and in the future, students should not have to fight to attend their graduations.