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One year in, UTSA Dreamers Resource Center is helping students succeed

One year in, UTSA Dreamers Resource Center is helping students succeed

(Jan. 22, 2019) -- The UTSA Dreamers Resource Center, established as part of UTSA Presidential Initiative on Diversity and Inclusion, is celebrating a special milestone. Today marks one year since the center opened to educate 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 to 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 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 were 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.

Courtney Balderas-Jacob

Learn more about UTSA Dreamers Resource Center

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.