This article was published in the Sept. 14, 2017 edition of the Northwest Missourian as well as published on nwmissourinews.com
For Northwest soccer, a certain sophomore’s time in the United States may run out following a ruling from the White House.
At age two, midfielder Natasha Samudzi was brought to the United States from Zimbabwe. Moving to America brought hope to Samudzi’s family along with opportunity. Now the agenda has rescinded, the feeling of hope has dwindled away.
President Donald Trump announced his choice to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy Sept. 5. The program was originally put in place by the Obama Administration to protect minors, as well as those protected by the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) act.
The act has protected nearly 790,000 unauthorized minors from being deported. Qualifying for this program, Samudzi said the policy has helped her live a typical life of an American.
“DACA has helped me get to where I am in so many ways,” Samudzi said. “It’s helped me obtain a driver’s license, working authorization, social security and overall a chance of hope to living life here in America.”
Coach Tracy Hoza has not only helped Samudzi become the athlete she is today, but she also understands what it is like to be an immigrant. Hoza is a native of Limerick, Ireland and played college soccer at the Division II level. Hoza said the experience can be more difficult than it appears.
“It has been hard on her,” Hoza said. “I’ve lived through something similar and it’s hard. Natasha has held herself very well, she’s been very open which a lot of people didn’t know. The same is very true of a lot of the DACA students. I think that has helped her and our friends have helped her get through this.”
With Hoza being an immigrant, she has first-hand experience with the toll it can take. Samudzi said she is thankful from all of the encouragement that she has received from Hoza and her teammates. The recognition by her team has helped bring them together.
“Coach Hoza has been very supportive and for that, I cannot thank her enough,” Samudzi said. “She is there with me every step of the way and always making sure that I am doing fine, same goes with the girls. Now I think they are realizing a close friend and teammate is affected by the decision and they are being very supportive to me as well.”
Along with the support from her colleagues, Samudzi has received support from the University. Communicating and letting her know they cared went a long way for Samudzi.
“The University has done more than I could imagine,” Samudzi said. “Even the simple step of reaching out to me and making sure that I am alright was more than enough. They have also let me know they are staying in touch with the news and keeping an eye out on this issue and are thinking of me.”
The steps Northwest has taken to reach out to her convinced her she chose the correct University. Samudzi has felt the embrace of the Northwest family that they preach during recruitment.
“They have led me to believe in many ways that I, for sure, made the right choice on going to school here with their constant support and reassurance,” Samudzi said. “They too are not giving up and are going to fight as well.”
While being apart of the soccer club, off the pitch Samudzi has been able to continue her own version of the American Dream. The programs have done nothing but help in her pursuit of happiness.
“Right now I am currently working on an on-campus job in the library a couple times a week, being able to get an education, playing soccer and having a chance of happiness,” Samudzi said. “DACA has done nothing but positively affect my life and what I can only hope, my future.”
During these uncertain times, Samudzi said she doesn’t expect for her life to be altered in any way. She continues to fight for her life and has a positive outlook on the situation.
“I hope to see that other people and students under this act don’t lose hope,” Samudzi said. “Now is the time more than ever to come together in every way possible and be there for one another. I expect my education and soccer career to continue here at Northwest successfully as it has been. I expect people to keep fighting for what is right and to not give up.”