Sam Ruiz is a 27-year veteran nurse in Miami today, working as a pediatric nurse transport coordinator at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
But back in 1979, he was an undocumented immigrant trying to build his American dream.
A native of Colombia, Ruiz entered the U.S. at the age of 23. He found work in a factory and spent several years performing grinding, difficult work while going to school to become a nurse. He married a Cuban-American, had three children and became a citizen.
“It wasn’t easy,” he reflects. “But it was my dream. I worked in factories, very hard work. I knew I didn’t want that to be my future.”
Ten years after entering the country, Ruiz started his career as a nurse.
After Ruiz’s first marriage ended, he reached out to his high school sweetheart in Colombia. The pair rekindled their romance and she soon joined him in America, also becoming a citizen.
Ruiz loves his job, but says that his immigrant experience is part of what motivates him to volunteer with the union and get involved in the politics of social justice. He believes that America is full of millions of hard-working people just like him, who deserve the chance to build their dream and contribute even more to this country.
“I enjoy making sure people get educated, and fighting for the rights of immigrants, for justice,” he says. “That’s what motivates me to be part of this movement. Follow your dreams. This is a great country. We need to be sure we keep it great.”