Last week, she revealed her well-kept secret to the world; and now, 19-year-old Nova Bajamonti says she's ready to tell her story "even more loudly and even more boldly."
Bajamonti, an undocumented immigrant, picked up a microphone at a forum co-hosted by Hillary Clinton last Thursday in New York and told her life story to the packed room. "For the first time publicly, I want to say that I am an undocumented immigrant," she told the crowd, her voice breaking with emotion as the room erupted in applause.
Hillary Clinton had taken the stage at the "Girls: A No Ceilings Conversation" event with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton. The pair listened to Bajamonti's impassioned speech alongside event moderator and actress America Ferrera.
Bajamonti, who moved to the United States from Croatia when she was 5, went on to explain how tough it's been for her to empower herself in America. "It’s been very hard for me because I don’t have the documentation I need to get a job, to vote, which is essential to women’s representation, or to buy an apartment, or to take out a loan for college," she told the forum attendees.
The young woman had reportedly applied for permanent residency but was denied. At the forum last week she challenged Hillary Clinton to explain her position on immigration reform. "What do we need to do to put this in priority when it comes to Congress, because this is an extreme glass ceiling to me that I can't even control?" she said, addressing the former secretary of state.
When Bajamonti concluded her speech, Clinton praised the young woman for her courage. "That was incredibly brave, and I thank you for doing that because it is important to put ourselves in other people’s shoes," Clinton said, adding that she strongly supports immigration reform and a "path to citizenship" for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Following her announcement, Bajamonti, a New York City resident, told local newspaper Downtown Express that she felt empowered after unloading her burdensome secret. “It was a very big and liberating moment for me," she said. "I’ve been keeping this secret in order to protect myself for so many years."
Bajamonti has also said that Clinton's words of encouragement made her coming-out experience even more special. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, This isn’t real life. This is surreal. Hillary Clinton is telling me how great I am.’ It empowered me even more to tell my story even more loudly and even more boldly,” she said to Buzzfeed.
Watch Nova Bajamonti's courageous speech in the video, above.