In 2005, Monico flew to the United States from El Salvador on a tourist visa to rejoin her father in Los Angeles. She said she always planned to overstay the six-month duration of her visa.
Monico immigrated to the United States in 2005 when she was 15, after having been told that educational opportunities in the United States were far greater than in El Salvador. She completed high school in Los Angeles and came to UC Berkeley as a freshman in the fall of 2008. In order to finance her education at UC Berkeley, Monico has worked multiple jobs, survived on Big Macs and Cup of Noodles, lived with a friend for two semesters in Davis and slept in empty lounges on campus when rent was too much to handle or walking home to West Oakland was too unsafe. (Photo by Jan Flatley-Feldman/Staff)