Empowering undocumented young people to achieve educational and career goals
NEW AMERICAN SCHOLARS PROGRAM 2013 SCHOLARS Overview
In 2013, we received applications from 141 talented immigrant students, representing 70 high schools, 33 colleges, and 14 countries of origin. We invited 11 extraordinary students to be part of our 2013 New American Scholars Program — seven undergraduate scholars and, for the first time, four graduate scholars. We are awarding them $50,000 in scholarships. Our 2013 Scholars hail from Canada, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, and South Korea. They are attending New York University, Notre Dame de Namur University, San Francisco State, Santa Clara University, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, and UC Santa Cruz.
Adriana "Ever since I was in high school, I worked very hard to get into Santa Clara University. The same day that my parents left for Mexico, I received my acceptance letter and it assured me that this is where I was meant to go. I put everything that I have in this goal, because I believe that by investing in my education, I will be able to help my community and myself in the future." — Adriana
There are no immigration laws, family hardships or financial challenges that could ever prevent Adriana from accomplishing her dream of graduating from Santa Clara University. Following her grandfather’s passing, Adriana’s family decided to go back to Mexico, knowing they would not be able to come back to the US. That same day, Adriana received her acceptance letter from Santa Clara University. Not knowing what the future would bring, Adriana had to decide whether to stay in the US or leave with the rest of her family. She decided to roll the dice and follow her lifelong dream of attending Santa Clara.
Today, Adriana works as a math tutor at Elevate Tutoring and works numerous hours as a sales consultant to help fund her college education. Despite the fact that she works almost full time, Adriana remains committed to her studies at Santa Clara University and holds a very strong GPA. She is on track to earn her BA in Sociology with a minor in Spanish next year. Being undocumented has helped her see the hurdles that DREAMERS struggle with, but that has never slowed her down or discouraged her. Because of this, Adriana also plans to minor in law so that she may give back to the community.
All in all, Adriana is a driven and diligent DREAMER who has taken one of the biggest risks in her life turned it into one of the best investments of her life. She has definitely shown her commitment to her educational goals through her many sacrifices.
Charles "Being able to watch my mom provide for me and my sister, even without legal documents or worker’s rights, has influenced and motivated me to continue to fight for social justice and human rights. I have worked tirelessly to advocate for the DREAM Act, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the Domestic Bill of Rights, and more, all while attending college and working. This has taught me that I can achieve success even under adversity. My experiences are my motivation and have fueled my desire to transfer to a four-year university so that I can pursue higher education and contribute to policy making that is fair for everyone." — Charles
Perhaps more impressive than Charles’ resume and list of extra curricular activities and accomplishments is his ability to face adversity head on with humility, determination, and integrity. As someone who emigrated from Canada to the US at the age of two, Charles has not only had to struggle to overcome homelessness and possibility of deportation, but also has coped with the tragic reality of losing his mother and having to provide for himself and his sister. Despite being presented with a multitude of obstacles, Charles has remained committed to furthering his own education and rights, while also ensuring that those in his community have access to a better future as well. As a member of the Oakland library’s youth council and ASPIRE, Charles has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of those around him. Inspired by his experiences as an undocumented person living in the US, Charles has aspirations of dedicating himself to a life of public service. This fall Charles will be attending UCLA where he intends to major in Economics and Political Science.
Daniela "Daniela works relentlessly at everything that she does, and takes full ownership of her education. She has faced incredible challenges for a student her age, including the task of raising a child while still in high school, yet not once have I heard her make an excuse. Last school year, even when Daniela was seven months pregnant with her daughter, she never failed to come to school...She is one of the grittiest, most determined, and most reliable high school students that I have ever encountered." — Tyler Naman, Spanish Teacher/Peer Leaders Faculty Advisor at Leadership Public Schools Richmond High School
Daniela is graduating from high school with a 4.0 GPA and entering UC Berkeley in the fall with an intended major in Political Science. Throughout her time in high school, she has participated in numerous activities, including serving as Student Body President, educating her local community about opportunities available to undocumented youth in her role as AB540 Dreamers Club Representative, and facilitating school events and mentoring youth as a member of Richmond Peer Leaders. Daniela is committed to her extracurricular activities and has maintained high academic achievement despite becoming a teen parent. As Daniela describes it, “What initially seemed like a curse developed into a blessing as things ultimately fell into place. My daughter Alyssa holds a very dear and interactive role in my life, yet I don’t let her serve as an excuse to lower my self-expectations. I expect her to look back on my accomplishments as her own and notice that although my path to success might have seemed impossible for a short time, it never hindered.” Daniela is truly a role model and inspiration to other students.
Harsev "In the future, I see myself working to solve the Delta water crisis and using my civil engineering education to contribute to improving the agricultural issues facing the world today. I view my career choices as unifying an ancestral farming tradition with a modern environmental sensibility that will make me a productive global citizen in the world." — Harsev
Professors describe Harsev as having “personal skills, interests, and the commitment to play a leadership role outside the university.” Through his high school Environmental Science class, he learned that as a Civil Engineer he could impart environmental consciousness. He first put his knowledge to use in two high school agri-science project teams. Now as a junior at the University of California, Davis, his research skills help him serve as co-captain of the Environmental Project, a water treatment group. In spite of being ineligible for federal or state financial aid, Harsev has found the balance between working, interning and excelling academically, which has landed him on the Dean’s Honor List. In addition to pursuing his passion for environmental sustainability, he maintains his faith as a teacher in the Sikh Temple.
Katiuska "America is my home. I wasn’t born in this country, yet I feel a voracious love for this land. The limitations I have as an undocumented student have not blocked my ability to help my community. I volunteer my time, and this has made me a strong leader, a leader who has compassion and love for others, someone who is truly faithful to her community." — Katiuska
Katiuska was born in Peru and moved to the United Stated a little over 3 years ago. In this short time, Katiuska learned English by fully immersing herself into her academics as well as community activities. With the exception of her first semester in high school when Katisuka got a B, she has gotten straight A’s and even an A+ her sophomore year in all her English classes. Her counselor at Novato High School shared in her letter of recommendation that Katisuka wanted to learn English so fast so that she could be taken out of the ELD program as soon as possible. She accomplished all this without having her parents with her since they are back in Peru. She’s also had to work multiple jobs as a face painter in a restaurant, a babysitter, and a house cleaner to make end meets. This fall, Katisuka will be starting her freshman year at UC Santa Cruz studying political science.
Mariah "If I simply didn’t fail, I wouldn’t have learned…I learned not to carry the heavy stones of mistakes on my back, but rather to place them under my feet so that they may become the stepping stones towards my success." — Mariah
Mariah emigrated from the Philippines at age 14. She is known for her extraordinary academic ability, athleticism, and leadership. Mariah graduated in the top 2% of her class at Jefferson High School. She not only earned recognition on the Principal’s Honor Roll, but also admission into Notre Dame de Namur University where she will attend school in the fall. As a high school junior, she earned an A in Philosophy at UC Berkeley’s Academic Talent Development Program. Beyond academics, Mariah is well-rounded leader, serving as Captain of the Robotics Team, Captain of the Badminton Team, and Managing Editor of the school newspaper. Mariah’s teachers describe her as “exceptionally resilient and bright” but also “gracious” on rare occasions of failure.
Tasha "Tasha is incredibly dedicated to completing education goals. In her first semester, when she took over 12 units, she received a 4.0 GPA. She wanted to jump into a full course load and receive her associate’s degree as quickly as possible. From there, her grades have consistently stayed in the upper reaches, all while taking high-unit semesters. This level of commitment and ability to focus on her class assignments is unique and admirable and is indicative of her potential to succeed once she transfers." — Daryan Chan, Tasha’s College Counselor
Tasha migrated with her family from the Philippines in 2008 and settled in her aunt’s house in Daly City. She began her sophomore year at Westmoor High School and immediately excelled academically. She obtained a 3.66 GPA her first semester and by the end of her senior year, her overall GPA was a 3.53. She was also very involved in multiple high school clubs as well as her class student body organization. Outside of school, Tasha volunteered with the Red Cross, the Youth Elderly Services, St. Francis Convalescent Home, and Visitacion Valley Elementary School’s after-school program. She then continued her education at Skyline College, where she challenged herself by taking rigorous classes such as Calculus, Statistics, Business Law, Economics, and US History, and by taking a large number of units each semester. This past fall, Tasha juggled 19 units and obtained all A’s and B’s. Her motto in life is, "If other people can do it, I can do it. If other people cannot do it, I must do it."
Dayana An educator and activist, Dayana has volunteered and interned with a variety of institutions across the Bay Area, including DeLaVeaga Elementary, Loma Vista Elementary and the Monument Crisis Center. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a minor in Education, Dayana got involved with College Track, an after-school college access program that serves urban youth in Oakland. As a Program Manager and Student Outreach & Services Coordinator, she spearheaded a pilot program designed to serve the needs of undocumented high school seniors. Dayana worked with the surrounding community to secure resources and assist seven students’ transition to college.
In the fall of 2013, Dayana will be starting her second year of a two-year Master’s of Social Work program at New York University. After finishing at the top of her class her first year, she is excited to return and begin a field placement at The New School’s Health & Wellness Center during her final year.
After graduation, Dayana plans to return to California and join an education-oriented non-profit where she can contribute to program development and utilize her clinical therapy skills. Dayana’s goal is to change social inequalities and empower marginalized communities to get ahead by helping them access equitable education. In the interim, Dayana will enjoy her time in New York eating the many cuisines and learning about the many cultures that inhabit the area.
Ju "Immigration is an issue not limited to a certain city or state, it is a national, a global issue that affects people all around the world. I envision a world where every person is treated with dignity and respect; I hope to make that vision into a reality." — Ju
Ju came to the United States from South Korea at the age of 11 and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2012, Ju graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Science. As an undergrad student, Ju co-founded the AB540 coalition, in which he served a key role in mapping out resources available for undocumented students at UC Berkeley. He also co-founded ASPIRE (Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education), where he provided resources and outreach to the Asian Pacific Islander immigrant community. Ju has served as senator of associated student government at UC Berkeley and president of associated students at Laney College. Currently, Ju is a student in the Master’s program in Public Administration at San Francisco State University. After he graduates from the program, he hopes to continue to support underprivileged immigrant communities through public service.
Nalleli "Despite the many challenges I faced as an undocumented college student, my education, coupled with activism, has afforded me a life beyond my dreams. It has given me a lens through which I can look at life critically and redefine myself and the role I play in society." — Nalleli
Nalleli was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico and came to the U.S. at the age of nine. She attended San Jose State University and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science and Psychology. Nalleli has been a committed activist in the immigrant student movement since starting college in 2004. She served in various leadership positions for Student Advocates for Higher Education (SAHE) and participated in the 2007 California Dream Network statewide student fast. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Social Welfare (MSW) from the University of California, Berkeley with a concentration in Management and Planning. She is also the co-founder of the Northern California Chapter of Graduates Reaching a Dream Deferred (GRADD), a support and advocacy group for prospective and current undocumented students pursuing graduate school. She will also be serving as the Northern Student Director of the National Association of Social Work, California Chapter from 2013 to 2014. After attaining her MSW, Nalleli aspires to continue a career advancing social justice and education equity for immigrant families.
Odet Odet arrived from Mexico to the U.S. at six years old. At a young age, she recognized the shortcomings her community faced in terms of wealth and access to services. At that time she did not have the language or theoretical foundations to articulate the reasons why there were such injustices. Anger and frustration were common feelings for Odet, and she believes those feelings fueled her passion to help others. In 2007, Odet started her academic career at the City College of San Francisco, where she became involved with student government, served as president of La Raza, and also volunteered at the Latino student center. Furthermore, she took on the responsibility of writing a proposal that gave all undocumented students access to use the textbook loan program free of charge.
In the spring of 2010, she transferred to San Francisco State University. Odet’s first internship on campus was with Project Connect, where her participation consisted of giving college tours, coordinating student panels, and providing guidance to college- bound students. In addition, she became involved with La Raza Centro Legal, a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services to Latino immigrants. Odet researched grants for the center, helped prepare immigration application and gave citizenship classes. Recently, Odet ended an internship with the San Francisco Day Labor Program and Women's Collective, where she assisted with fund-development, prepared grant proposals and reports.
After receiving her undergraduate degree in Latina/o Studies in the spring of 2012, Odet prepared to pursue a Maters Degree. This spring, Odet was accepted into the Public Administration Master’s program at SFSU. As she enters her second semester, she hopes to develop the skills and techniques used by leaders and managers to execute policies, projects, and programs that resolve important societal problems while addressing organizational, human resource, and budgetary challenges. Odet’s future plans are to work for an organization that is dedicated to empowering immigrant communities. One of her goals is to become the executive director of a non-profit with an emphasis in social justice. She also aspires to start a non-profit organization that develops resources for Latino immigrants living in rural areas.