December 6, 2013
With the holidays coming up, I highly recommend checking out Prerna’s shopping guide! You can support fellow undocumented students fundraising for their higher education, while at the same time having cute and social-justice conscious gifts to give:
*These are great outside of holiday shopping too, they make great everyday and birthday gifts
Personally, I already ordered an “Undocumented, Unafraid, & Unapologetic” shirt from YLC, bracelet from AskAngy, and currently shopping for a beanie from DreamBeanies. I have no doubt that the people receiving them this holiday season will love the gift and the message/passion behind them.
Adding to the list, if you are shopping for the UndocuActivist in your life, think about any of the items below, but also consider these: a megaphone (great for rallies and sit-ins!), a journal (to jot down organizing notes and ideas), a USB drive (to save organizing related documents such as notes, graphics, etc), and a camera (because it’s important to document our own lives).
Do you have any more gift ideas? Comment below.
November 30, 2013
I would love to feature your story as part of “UndocuGrads”!
As a former graduate student, I had to create and learn of ways to navigate the higher education system as the only undocumented student in my cohort. Thankfully, I got connected to fellow undocumented grad students across the U.S. who shared with me important advice about applying and surviving grad school. Now, I would love to give back to others, by not only sharing my own story through this blog, but also by featuring the stories of former and current undocumented graduate school students.
If you are interested in sharing your experience, please contact me @Caro_doculife (Twitter) or firstname.lastname@example.org (E-mail)
For advice and inspiration from the growing stories of UndocuGrads, check out:
November 21, 2013
Are you undocumented and need financial assistance covering the increasing costs of attending/completing higher education? Check out Educators 4 Fair Consideration’s new 2013-2014 list of scholarships that do not require proof of citizenship or legal permanent residency:
November 14, 2013
Ever wondered, “Can I go to graduate school if I am undocumented?”, “How different is the process for me than for my citizen counterparts?”, “Are there other undocumented immigrants who have gone to graduate school?”, “How did they do it?”
The profiles featured in this new series, “UndocuGrads”, are meant to increase awareness about being undocumented and in graduate school, as well as inspire and support undocumented students who are or will be considering the pursuit of a graduate degree. As you will learn from UndocuGrads themselves, there are several opportunities, challenges, and thoughts to keep in mind when applying and attending graduate school.
The stories of each student featured here are unique. They live in different parts of the U.S., were born in different parts of the world, have had varying experiences, and have different career goals. At the same time, they all envision a day where more and more undocumented students will attend and graduate from higher education in pursuit of their dreams. They also share a passion- one of continuing to give back to their communities through activism, education, outreach, policy, and much more.
Connecting with other undocumented grad students was key to my own pursuit of a graduate degree. Aside from advice I provide on my “Applying to grad school” series, it is important that at the same time I share with you all the stories of UndocuGrads making a difference all across the country. UndocuGrads continue to inspire students, such as myself, to pursue our dreams, overcome barriers, and pave the way for future generations.
Learn from each one here…
Alma was born in Mexico City and arrived to the U.S. at the age of 7. In 2011, she graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Master’s degree in Education. Her professional goals include pursuing law school and/or a Master’s degree in Public Policy.
When did you know you wanted to go to graduate school? I didn’t start thinking about graduate school until I finished my undergraduate studies. Being undocumented, I thought that a BA was enough; and sadly, I had not received the information necessary to know what grad school was about and what the process would be like. I knew I wanted to go to grad school once I heard that other undocumented folks were already in grad school and that inspired me to start the application process.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give other undocumented students considering/applying to graduate school? Apply to programs that are supportive of undocugrads. It makes a world of a difference knowing that advisors, professors, other students and others in the program will be supportive, whether it is seeking/opening financial opportunities or resources, being open to hear and understand the different experiences undocugrads bring and also how that will shape the students’ work. For many, being able to say that they are undocumented is a huge part of their identity; if a program is not going to be supportive of that then why would you want to be in a place where your identity, experiences, and knowledge are not valued?
Ju emigrated from South Korea to the United States when he was 11 years old. Ju attended Laney College in Oakland, where he was elected as the first Asian American and the youngest student body president. He graduated from Laney College with a 3.8 GPA and transferred to the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, he ran for student government senator and was elected as the very first undocumented student government senator in UC Berkeley history. In fall 2012, Ju graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Currently, he is pursuing a Master’s degree in public administration at San Francisco State University. After he finishes the program, he hopes to work at a nonprofit organization to continue to advocate for the rights of immigrant community. He also hopes to work in the local government as a legislative aide to support legislators in several broad areas, such as administration, research and analysis, and public relations and communications.
How early did you prepare to apply for graduate school program? In my personal experience, it took me about a year to prepare to apply for graduate school programs. In the beginning of the year, I looked into different programs and institutions to compare tuition fees, resources and opportunities, and career choices. In addition, my mentors and undocumented graduate students gave me insightful tips and suggestions on how to find the best graduate school program that perfectly fits to my professional career goals in the future. After much thought and careful consideration, I decided to apply for Public Administration Program at San Francisco State University. From then on, I prepared by gathering recommendation letters, drafting my personal statement, and studying for the GRE. During the application process, one of my questions was- Should I reveal my immigration status in the personal statement or not? In the beginning, I was hesitant to reveal my immigration status, but in the end I decided to talk about my immigration status because it was one of my main reasons why I applied for Public Administration’s program in the first place. The entire process took me about eight to twelve months. Although it was a long draining process, it was A very rewarding experience especially in knowing that I got accepted to the program.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give other undocumented students considering/applying to graduate school? Prepare as much as possible. Based on my personal experience, the more time you spend on your application process, you will have a higher chance of getting into the program that you apply for. So what are you waiting for? Start preparing for graduate school TODAY! If I can do it, you can do it too.
Nidya was born in Nayarit, Mexico. She arrived to San Diego in 1988 at the age of 2. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Santa Cruz in Feminist Studies with a minor in History, and a Master’s degree in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her career goals include becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, professor, and author.
Why did you decide to go to graduate school? A career as a Marriage and Family Therapist was not always in my plans. However, the knowledge I gained in my life, work, and educational experiences led me to believe in therapy as a tool for social justice and positive change in the community. My undocumented immigration status, poverty, and involvement in abusive familial relationships and romantic partnerships taught me that larger systems of oppression such as patriarchy, White supremacy, and capitalism directly impact an individual’s wellbeing and mental health. To alleviate the difficulty of my experiences, for many years now, I have been involved in organizing for social change through community organizations advocating for the respect of immigrants, workers, women, and people of color. I have sought out individual therapy in times when I needed further support. In both those collective and personal spaces I learned about the healing and transformative change that can arise when social justice is linked with therapeutic skills and knowledge. I imagine myself as a licensed marriage and family therapist who perceives and appreciates the multiplicity of issues, emotional, psychological, and societal, impacting individuals, families, and couples all at once.
I entered the mental health field as a bilingual, Feminist, and social justice based marriage and family therapist, aware of intersections in emotional, societal, and psychological aspects of life and family dynamics. I had met several attorneys involved with community based social justice projects and organizations, but never a marriage and family therapist not solely in an office environment. My contributions as a marriage and family therapist will also be in community settings, through workshops, presentations, group therapy, projects, organizations, and facilitation. My education in the San Diego Marriage and Family Therapy program is a stepping stone towards establishing traditional and non-traditional therapy spaces in the community where individuals, marriages, and families can decipher issues such as patriarchy, homophobia, and racism in order to better understand dilemmas that may arise within their lives. Even though there may be life struggles not fully in their control, I would like to collaborate with clients to acquire positive approaches to live with hope, self-love, and confidence.
What was your biggest challenge in completing graduate school? My greatest challenges in completing graduate school were the finances and transportation. The first two years in my graduate program the California Dream Act was not yet established. I was doing work as a community organizer with household workers while also planning fundraising events for my tuition, books, and school fees. Thanks to the support of family, friends, and community I was able to reach my fundraising goals at each event and food sale. For example, in one night Carolina and I, along with our family members, made over 1,000 tamales over different kinds to raise money for school. Another time we held a garage sale with donated items and furniture from a friend who was moving from her home of many years. I had to think outside the box and allow myself to reach out to my community for support in order to pay for school. However, despite the incredible encouragement from my loved ones and the community, Fall semester of my last year in graduate school I lost my ability to make installment payments towards tuition and fees. In my struggle to complete each monthly payment, multiple late payments were documented. As a result I had to take the semester off from school, and accomplish 2 semesters during my last semester. It was an overwhelming last semester, but I did it. Furthermore, assistance with rides to San Diego State University from Escondido by friends, family, and peers were critical my first two years. I don’t know how I would have been able to make it through graduate school without individuals offering to pick me up and drop me off. On days when I did not have a ride I would make my way to school on a 3 hour bus ride from Escondido to San Diego! Graduate school as an undocumented student was a challenging, yet amazing experience that taught me a lot both intellectually and emotionally about my abilities to transcend barriers, obtain support from those around me, and speak my truth….Oh! and the art of drinking coffee to keep going, going, and going!
Fanny was born in Mexico City and came to the U.S. in 2002 when she was 13 years old. Along with her mother and sister, they reunited with their father who had come to Illinois almost three years earlier. She has lived mostly in the northwest suburbs of Illinois since her arrival. Fanny graduated from Dominican University (River Forest, IL) in 2011 and received a B.A. with honors in Sociology and two minors: Women and Gender Studies and Spanish Studies. In June of 2013, she graduated from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy with a Masters in Public Policy (MPP). She would love to continue supporting the immigrant community as much as possible. Fanny’s career goal is to utilize her community organizing, research, and analytical skills to develop and implement policies and programs that advance the academic, professional, and economic development of underprivileged and underserved immigrant women, youth, low-income families, and the LGBTQ community.
Why did you decide to go to graduate school? I decided to go to graduate school for two reasons. First, I had studied Sociology and I knew that I needed more training to narrow my career goals and find a specific concentration in my field. So, I decided to enroll in the school of public policy to obtain the skills that I needed to influence immigration policy more effectively. Second, I was still undocumented and had no options to continue with my career. There was no DACA or work authorization available, so I couldn’t get a job that would provide me with the experience I needed to build a career in public policy. I realized that continuing school would help me acquire more skills and experience while I was waiting to adjust my immigration status.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give other undocumented students considering/applying to graduate school? One piece of advice I often give to other undocumented students considering/applying to graduate school is to be proactive, honest, and confident when reaching out to school administrators. I recommend that you schedule a meeting with the admissions director (or any other senior administrator) of the program you are applying to and tell him/her about your experience being an undocumented student, how your undocumented status prevents you from continuing with your education, how their program is connected to your career goals and how you will make a strong contribution to their program. These administrators admire students that are determined and passionate. Make a good impression and help them understand your personal situation. They will remember you! In my experience, seeking resources, asking lots of questions, and building a strong support network were all key steps I had to take in order to survive the application process because there was limited information regarding how undocumented students were supposed to navigate graduate school.
Diana was born in Mexico and moved to the U.S. at the age of 13. She has been living in San Diego since. In 2011, she graduated from California State University San Marcos with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a minor in Communication. Two years after, in 2013, she completed her Master’s in Postsecondary Leadership with a specialization on Student Affairs from San Diego State University. Diana’s career goals include becoming a professor and researcher.
What was your biggest challenge in completing graduate school? I was the first undocumented student in the program. In undergrad, I was one of the few undocumented students but I did not have the sense of being the only one facing these unique challenges. My entire cohort was doing paid assistantships and while I received an offer to do an assistantship I could not do it because of my status (pre-DACA). I did an internship my first year, while my second year I couldn’t do one because I couldn’t financially support myself to do a non-paid internship. Instead I worked somewhere else to get paid, but it was not related to my field.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give other undocumented students considering/applying to graduate school? Consider the support the school/graduate program provides for undocumented students. I was the first undocumented graduate student to be part of the 6-year-old graduate program. The support for undocumented students is not as integrated as in other programs so consider whether you will be paving the way for others or you will be benefitting from others who have paved the way. It is not a matter of whether this is good or bad, but definitely consider if you will be the first (or one of the first) undocumented students (which chances are you will).
Alejandra was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. She was 4 years when she arrived to the U.S. in 1989. In 2007, Alejandra received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. In 2013, she completed her Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Counseling. Her career goals include becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
Why did you decide to go to graduate school? I wasn’t sure what I could do with my BA in terms of mental health, there were many options. I researched and found how my graduate program would be a stepping stone for any future plans I had. The program focused on multicultural aspects of counseling, I knew then that’s what I wanted.
Why did you choose to study Education with an emphasis in Counseling? I want to work in the mental health field because our communities are suffering. We live in a society that creates fear and shame the norm. Unfortunately, this creates an environment where depression, PTSD, among others breed and thrive. There are not enough counselors that know how to work with immigrant populations. I don’t believe that we all share the same experience, because we each have a unique experience, however, not all counselors understand this. I can’t fix or undo what people have gone through but I can help them process what they feel.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give other undocumented students considering/applying to graduate school? Have a support system, whether it’s parents, friends, counselors, or whoever, surround yourself with people who support you. This is advice for any student really. The more people you have that love and support you the better, because there will be days that you want to give up or you are exhausted. Sometimes those people can bring you back to the reasons why you are doing this. Graduate school is a huge commitment, adding immigration status to the equation can be overwhelming. Also, don’t let your immigration status stop you from pursuing your dreams. Lastly, please visit a counselor (there are low cost counselors available). Work with a counselor to explore whatever it maybe that you are struggling with, even grad school.