Julissa Arce

Julissa ArceJulissa Arce, is a writer, speaker, and social justice advocate. She is the Co-founder and Chairman of the Ascend Educational Fund, a college scholarship and mentorship program for immigrant students, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity or national origin. Julissa is also a board member for the National Immigration Law Center and College Spring. She is the former Director of Public Affairs at Define American, a media organization that uses the power of story to change culture around immigration and citizenship. Prior to becoming an advocate, she built a successful career on Wall Street working at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch and had seemingly achieved the American Dream, and yet she was not part of what defined American.

My Underground American Dream

MY (UNDERGROUND) AMERICAN DREAM (Center Street – September 13, 2016)

For an undocumented immigrant, what is the true cost of the American Dream?
In the heady days of one of the most dramatic bull markets in Wall Street history, Julissa Arce climbed the corporate ladder-a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties. In 2005, against all odds, she landed one of the most coveted jobs as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Over the course of the next six years, even while the financial markets crashed, she continued to climb the corporate ladder-riding a series of promotions to become a Vice President, complete with a high six-figure salary and all of the perks that come with living the Goldman Sachs life.

What none of her colleagues knew is that she wasn’t just a young woman who broke through ceilings in a cutthroat male-dominated field: she was also an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. In MY (UNDERGROUND) AMERICAN DREAM, Arce opens up about the true price of pursuing the American Dream. In telling this personal story of sacrifice, lies, pain, and suffering, Arce shifts the immigration conversation, and changes the perception of what it means to be an American.


A great, bright explosion of a book. A 21st-century David Copperfield with its utterly lovable, wildly imperfect heroine; a plot packed with incident; a few villains and many, many heroes. There are as many miracles as disasters, and no place to catch your breath. The reader will cheer and then be sad-and will learn much about the lives of young immigrants in America. ―Donald E. Graham, Former Chairman and Publisher of The Washington Post

Arce takes us on a breathtaking climb to the highest pinnacles of Wall Street while holding fast to a deep secret. The path to her success at Goldman Sachs is certainly inspiring. But it is the telling of her story with humor, grace and insight that is the real achievement. ―Lisa Endlich, author of New York Times bestseller Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success

There are so many moments in Julissa’s journey that numbed my body and transported me fully into her harrowing experience. Her story broke my heart and then made it jump for joy. ―America Ferrera, actor, producer

A heart-rendering testament to the resiliency and determination of one woman who dared to dream. It crosses borders – literally and metaphorically. ―Turney Duff, New York Times bestselling author of The Buy Side

Julissa Arce’s story is a must read. The twist and turns of her life keep you on the edge of your seat. She lives with a secret that could destroy her life every day, while rising through the ranks of Wall Street. You will cry and you will be inspired with the will of a woman who embodies the real American Dream. ―Nely Galán, Entrepreneur and Producer