Dreaming of accessible education: It's time to make it a reality for all
“La educación es lo más importante en la vida, y así mija, nos superaremos!”
"Education is the most important thing in life, and daughter, that is the way we will prevail!”. Ever since I can remember my parents always emphasized the importance around education. They emphasized that education was one of the most powerful tools a person can have to get ahead in life. Both of my parents came from small rural towns in Mexico and neither were afforded higher education due to their families need for them to work. My father only attained a fourth grade level of education and my mother did finish her high school education, but could not attend college.
My parents had dreams of better lives and providing for their families, so they made the decision to head to el norte, the land of dreams and opportunities they had heard so much about. This is a common theme when it comes to immigrants leaving their home countries and settling in the United States; they want to provide for their families back home but also ensure that their future generations have more opportunities than they were afforded.
Mi papá and mi mamá came to the United States during the late 70s and they were fortunate to have lived long enough in this country when former president Ronald Reagan passed Immigration Amnesty in 1986, making it possible for both my undocumented parents to become naturalized citizens. I was born in the United States and when it came time to go to college, financial aid was the main reason I was able to attend the university. My decision to go to college was based on my own desire to have a professional career of my choice, but also from the value that my parents had always placed on education. I wanted to make sure that their sacrifice wasn’t in vain, that their sacrifices would be fruitful in the lives of my siblings and mine. The same is true to recent undocumented immigrants in the United States; the motivations and dreams still hold true. They want their children to grow and prosper and in the land they deem is full of opportunities. Similarly, young student Dreamers want the same for themselves and their families.
Yesterday, I witnessed dozens of student Dreamers testify in front of the Higher Education Committee on behalf of proposed Senate Bill 147: An Act Assisting Students without Legal Immigration Status with the Cost of College, also known as Institutional Aid, which would allow undocumented students to receive financial aid based on need or merit because currently they aren’t eligible due to their immigration status. Connecticut Students for a Dream (C4D) is a remarkable network organization that is currently advocating and offering support to Dreamers across the state of Connecticut. Dreamers want to be given the same opportunities as other students to become professional, productive citizens of the United States. They dream of higher education, they dream of not living in fear of not being able to get to the school of their choice because they simply can’t afford it.
Institutional aid is a step forward equalizing educational opportunities for all and creating a more just society where a person’s immigration status does not determine their qualification. Everyone should be given the chance to dream big and strive for a better future. With Institutional Aid, we get a little closer to realizing that.