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DREAMer Alejandro Larios Mora Finds a Home in Iowa, Career in Veterinary Medicine

Tana Tesdall
Former DREAMer Alejandro Larios Mora poses with friends he's made in Iowa, Barbara and Bruce Munson

As Alejandro Larios Mora struggled through elementary school in Anaheim, California, he didn't know he would one day travel to Iowa to become a veterinarian.

He also didn’t know that he had not been born in the United States.

“I thought I was like anybody else,” he says. “I didn’t think I would have any problems with my future.”

After he was born in Mexico, Larios Mora’s parents moved him to Hawaii, making him a DREAMer.

Later, his family relocated to the West Coast where he attended high school. Larios Mora says he barely graduated and couldn’t do basic math.

“I grew up in a really bad neighborhood where no one was talking about going to college or how well they're doing in school,” Larios Mora recalls. “I really could not have any less interest in school.”

He didn’t want a job like his father, who had endured many accidents as a construction worker. With that in mind, Larios Mora enrolled in community college classes, studied enough to get to California Polytechnic State University, and then applied for a spot at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

He got into ISU with a scholarship, but it was soon revoked due to his undocumented status. Every semester he struggled to foot the bill. He was constantly on the verge of dropping out.

Larios Mora learned to share his experiences with mentors, adding faculty advisors and church members to his team. With help from this new community and a few “miracles,” he says, he was able to secure funding that helped him earn his PhD.

Through the DACA program, Larios Mora gained the status to work legally in the U.S., enroll for a Social Security number, and obtain a driver’s license.

Now a board-certified veterinary pathologist at Iowa State University, Larios Mora details his navigation through the ever-changing U.S. immigration systems during this hour of Talk of Iowa with host Charity Nebbe.