By Courtney Balderas-Jacob
The UTSA Dreamers Resource Center, established as part of the UTSA Presidential Initiative on Diversity and Inclusion, is celebrating a special milestone. Today marks one year since the center opened to educate the campus and community members about the needs of undocumented students, provide support services to help Dreamers achieve academic and personal success, and serve as a campus and community advocate.
Located in the UTSA Student Union within the Student Center for Community Engagement and Inclusion (SU 2.01.04) on the Main Campus, the Dreamers Resource Center has made a positive impact on dozens of students over the last year. Its staff has regularly engaged with students in one-on-one advising sessions, eased access to legal services via partnerships with local non-profit agencies, participated in outreach efforts to spread awareness of its services and assisted prospective students in the admissions and financial aid processes.
Some of the UTSA Dreamers who were an integral part of the proposal and implementation of the center are now UTSA alumni.
“The UTSA Dreamers Resource Center was envisioned over a decade ago by a bright group of student activists who had a vision of hope and resilience for future undocumented students at UTSA,” said Andrea Ramos Fernandez ’18. “One year after the opening of the Dreamer Center, I wish to admire the legacy of the students whose hard work and dedication brought a legacy of inclusion to our university. Thanks to their efforts, many students will have more opportunities to excel in their academic goals, regardless of their immigration status.”
“The Dreamer Resource Center was a light of hope during my experiences at UTSA,” said Emmanuel Quiroz ’18. “It was a symbol that things were going to get better and that someone like me would graduate.”
Maria M. Rocha ’12, ’15 added, “The Dreamers Center is a safe haven for our undocumented student body; perhaps the most resilient and self-sufficient students arriving at our college campuses today. The center’s dedicated staff provide support for Dreamers as we continue to persevere and strive for higher education.”
In the spring and fall of 2018, UTSA Dreamers Resource Center hosted renewal clinics for students who had been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. At the clinics, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) provided the students with free consultations with immigration attorneys and assistance with application completion. Ultimately, 13 students filed an application to renew their DACA status.
The Dreamers Resource Center also partnered in a number of projects on campus to help students, faculty and staff understand the unique challenges of Dreamers including:
Dreamer ALLY training to share best practices for working with undocumented students with faculty and staff
an Immigration Symposium at the UTSA Downtown Campus along with employment/internship and financial aid workshops
the Plática Campus Conversation, leading a discussion for 38 students, faculty and staff about Dreamers and other displaced individuals in the U.S.
Within the San Antonio community, the Dreamers Resource Center participated in several outreach opportunities, including:
Alamo Colleges Transfer Preview Days
the San Antonio Independent School District Dream Summit
Coordinating with the Mexican Consulate General of San Antonio to offer the Institute for Mexicans Abroad BECAS Scholarship to UTSA students for the first time in 2018
Working with the nonprofit P16Plus Diplomás College Attainment and the City of San Antonio Immigration Education Action Team to create resources and events which promote opportunities for student access to higher education and support student success.
Most importantly, the UTSA Dreamers Resource Center has served as a model for the development of similar centers at other universities. In its first year alone, the UTSA center was visited by students, faculty, and staff at other colleges and universities including Baylor, the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, Our Lady of the Lake University, Texas Tech University, Mountain View Community College and the University of Central Oklahoma. Internationally, six college faculty members from Ukraine, who was part of the San Antonio Council for International Visitors, turned to the UTSA to understand how to implement similar services at their universities.
As the UTSA Dreamers Resource Center looks ahead to its second year, it will focus on identifying funding opportunities, scholarships, and grants for Dreamers and traveling with the UTSA Strategic Enrollment team and various other campus partners to recruit future Roadrunners.
One year in UTSA Dreamers Resource Center is Helping Students Succeed
By Courtney Balderas-Jacob