Empowering undocumented young people to achieve educational and career goals
NEW AMERICAN SCHOLARS PROGRAM
2016 New American Scholars
We invited six extraordinary students to be a part of our 2016 New American Scholars Program. Their areas of study are Biomedical Engineering, Astrophysics, Society and Environment, Biology, Economics and Psychology. They are attending City College of San Francisco, Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College, San Jose State University, UC Berkeley and UC Irvine. We are awed by these scholars' unflinching grit and desire, and proudly welcome them into our E4FC family!
Alan’s character is a combination of resilience and kindness. Growing up in Uruapan, Michoacan, Mexico, he was a thriving Computer Science student; however, he and his family faced deep financial hardship. Alan was only 16 when he decided to migrate to “El Norte” (U.S.). Determined to help his family, he made this sacrifice without hesitation.
Alan settled in San Jose, California. He worked as a dishwasher and busboy in three different restaurants, seven days a week. Five months later, he enrolled in ESL classes at De Anza College. Once he learned English, he volunteered as a translator at William C. Overfelt High School, where he helped parents fill out their kids’ college and financial aid applications.
When his father passed away unexpectedly, Alan returned to Mexico to be with his mother and younger sibling. A year later, Alan returned to the U.S. The uncertainty of his legal status left Alan with an anxiety so strong it was paralyzing. With the help of a therapist, Alan began to learn to cope with his anxiety and fears and decided to go back to school.
His hard work earned him a high GPA in community college and acceptance into San Jose State University. As a Psychology major, Alan sees the need for therapists that understand the psychological traumas that undocumented individuals experience. He wants to become exactly that therapist. Alan pays out-of-state tuition out of his own pocket.
Through his sincere dedication to his family and community, Alan will help people heal.
“I have transformed myself from being steered by fear to being driven by passion and a desire to help others.” Alan
It’s 3:00 AM and Daniel tries to stay awake so he can finish his homework. Working at a supermarket while balancing four AP classes leaves little time for sleep. Daniel takes short naps between breaks at work.
In spite of having such a demanding workload, Daniel managed to earn Freshman of the Year and a 4.0 GPA at Silver Creek High School. He has also excelled as a varsity athlete in Cross Country, Soccer, Track & Field, and has been team captain and a mentor to other athletes.
Daniel migrated from Mexico at the age of 13. He has resided in San Jose, CA with his mother and two younger siblings, but will soon begin studying Neuroscience at UC Irvine. Daniel has great potential to excel academically as well as to be a leader to the new generation of undocumented students.
He is relentless.
“Yes, life has been hard, but I will continue to fight for a better future for my family.” Daniel
Erika comes from a rural area between the mountains and green fields of Morelos, Mexico. Her family dedicated their lives to agriculture. She remembers spending “time picking onions in the fields for the entire day.”
Erika’s father migrated to the U.S first. He had an accident at work so Erika’s mom moved to the U.S. to help her husband, leaving Erika and her siblings behind. Erika took on the role of mom and took care of her young siblings.
Erika was 16 when she and her siblings were finally able to migrate to the U.S. The transition was not easy. Erika and her sister suffered from severe culture-shock and depression. Erika went to school to learn English while providing emotional support to her family. She worked two jobs to pay for her own education.
At Contra Costa College, she developed an interest for Horticulture. In addition to studying and taking care of her siblings, she has tutored kids in her neighborhood and volunteers at her community library and the Contra Costa Food Bank.
This Fall, Erika will be transferring to UC Davis to obtain her degree in Community and Regional Development. With her education and nurturing spirit, she hopes to educate people about environmental conservancy, food waste reduction and water conservation—all while celebrating her heritage and love for the earth.
“I have the responsibility to preserve the land my grandparents taught me to cultivate.” Erika
Lorena loved watching cartoons as a child. Wonder Woman was her favorite. She drew strength and drive from this memory when she first embarked on her academic journey.
Originally from Mexico, Lorena was 19 when she migrated to the United States. Her English was so limited that she “could not even order a hamburger!” She worked incessantly to finish her ESL courses.
At Contra Costa College, Lorena began to enroll in advanced Math courses, and has taken every opportunity possible to assist her professors and classmates. She has collaborated in the design of the college’s future astronomy lab and the trial of a new astronomy book. Lorena now tutors students in Calculus, Astronomy, Physics and Chemistry. She wants to transfer to San Francisco State University or Stanford, earn her B.S. in Astrophysics, and get a research job—all in order to inspire her 10-year old son to work hard for his dreams.
Lorena is an A+ mother and student. Always persevering, always growing, and always challenging herself, she carries the qualities she has long admired about her childhood superhero. Lorena no longer has time to watch Wonder Woman, but she has become one.
“I am able to turn problems into possibilities. That is my superpower."
Moises was born in Tijuana, Mexico. When he was 17, he moved by himself to San Francisco. And even though his parents have long passed away, he still wants to be the first person in his family to graduate from college.
In order to support himself, Moises has cleaned bathrooms for a living. Finances, however, are not the only challenge he has faced; he also has a learning disability. These struggles have driven Moises to pursue his own education as well as to help others do the same.
Moises considers himself a “community servant.” He volunteers at VIDA (Voices of Immigrants Demonstrating Achievement) the undocu-resource center at City College in San Francisco. He was a community organizer at CHALK, a non-profit organization that serves underrepresented and at-risk youth. His work included facilitation, outreach and social media. Through the UCLA Labor Center, he finished an internship at Alameda Health Consortium.
Moises is now a Biomedical Engineering major at City College of San Francisco, where he is building a school club that supports underrepresented students of color in STEM.
In service, Moises has found a home.
“I have a passion to bring help and success to undocumented and underrepresented students.” Moises
Early on in his life, Rafael Sanchez experienced first-hand the devastating consequences that a national economic crisis can have over a family. In 1994, during the now-called Tequila Crisis, Mexico confronted a 35% devaluation of the peso. Rafael’s family lost their house and moved to a small farm near Guadalajara, Mexico, making it impossible for him and his sisters to attend school. Rafael only attended up to second grade.
“Why are so many children denied basic rights and education? Why does my father work all day and is still unable to feed his family?” With these pressing questions, Rafael left his town and moved to the United States when he was 15.
Upon arrival in the U.S., he found a job cleaning tables at a restaurant. Many of his coworkers were UCLA students and they began to give him old college textbooks to help him learn English. Rafael was unable to attend school immediately, but after several years he studied to obtain his High School equivalency.
He attended Los Angeles Mission College, and graduated with a degree in Mathematics. He led many academic clubs while volunteering for local political campaigns, hospitals, and community programs. Rafael now attends UC Berkeley, and is pursuing a B.A. in Economics.
He hopes to graduate in May 2017 and continue searching for answers to the questions that first brought him to the U.S.
“I want to better understand the disadvantages my community faces to give back everything it has given me and more.” Rafael