Last month, on June 7 2014, the first annual UndocuGrads conference in San Diego took place. At the conference, attendees received helpful information and resources for applying to and navigating through graduate, law, and medical school. Our conference aimed to provide a holistic and in-depth look at what graduate school is like and the importance of our communities having access to higher education. We especially highlighted that our voices matter and that we have the power to create the change we want to see in/for our communities. All information/presentations were tailored to undocumented and DACAmented students. In the previous years, GRADD members have organized similar commendable events in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The UndocuGrads conference was not under the umbrella of a sole organization, however, it could not have been possible without the support of many students, professors, organizers, schools, organizations (including GRADD), and community members. In this post, I hope to share a glimpse of the vision and planning stage of our UndocuGrads conference.
I came to the U.S. when I was twelve years old and have since navigated the educational system as an undocumented student. Most recently, I was accepted into Harvard University for my Ph.D. in Education and will begin my studies this Fall 2014. I like to remind folks that I have not gotten to this stage alone. At every step, I have received tremendous support, guidance, and mentorship from many of you- my community.
(For updates about my doctoral studies, please check my “UndocuPhD” category)
Through my educational pursuits (including research, teaching, and organizing), I am committed to give back to my community. I created this online blog when I began my graduate studies at San Diego State University. In doing so, I hoped (and still do) that I could share with others my experience, as well as helpful information and resources regarding higher education, immigration, and more.
Earlier this year, March 29 to be exact, I took action on something I had been reflecting on over time- Pursuing a higher education comes with many challenges for underserved and underrepresented students given our immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, class, and more. We all need to do our part in bridging the path between higher education institutions and communities.
One way to do this over the summer, before I left to Boston for my Ph.D., was to put together the first conference in San Diego all about the graduate, law, and medical school application process and experience, tailored to undocumented students.
And so with a clear vision in mind, it all began to unfold… rapidly.
Our planning committee of seven former, current, and prospective graduate students, took on the challenging task of planning this one-day conference (without funds) over a series of weekly night meetings in April and May. Together, we registered over 100 folks from all across California, secured food and beverages, requested information and gear from several graduate programs across the U.S., invited key presenters to join us, and much more.
From organizers, supporters, presenters, volunteers, to attendees, we were (and still are) all committed to bridging the gap between higher education institutions and communities. Organizing, supporting, presenting, volunteering, and attending this conference are the ways through which we all contributed to addressing this issue of access, attainment, representation, and more. We gathered on June 7th ready to discuss with, learn from, and reflect among each other. The space we created for undocumented students- an underserved and marginalized population within and outside of the educational system- provided the opportunity for many to also share their undocumented status without fear, shame, or uncertainty.
We hope this conference set the stage for many more to come, where issues affecting undocumented immigrants will be at the forefront of our conversations. We are also excited to learn that several universities are interested in hosting the UndocuGrads conference in the near future. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Be sure to find more information and updates at our official website: http://undocugradsconference.wordpress.com/