Thursday, August 11, 2022

Dreamers Resource Center helps Hispanic students achieve lifelong success

Dreamers Resource Center helps Hispanic students achieve lifelong success


OCTOBER 1, 2021 — The UTSA Dreamers Resource Center (DRC) serves as a beacon of advocacy and hope for Dreamers and undocumented students on campus. It is positively impacting retention and graduation rates for the roughly 460 students it serves while enhancing their personal and professional journeys.

“At the Dreamers Resource Center, we strive to provide equitable opportunities to support the professional, academic and personal needs of our students,” said Damaris Ibarra, assistant director of the center. “This is why the center continues to lead events and programs that will provide Dreamers and undocumented students the tools to successfully enroll, persist and graduate from UTSA.”

The center was established in 2018 as part of the UTSA Presidential Initiative on Diversity and Inclusion to educate the community and provide support services for students to achieve academic success.

“For new students seeking counseling, advising or even financial help, these are all resources a student can utilize through the DRC.”

From Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) info sessions and trainings to Dreamer Success Workshops and Dreamer and Undocumented Student Conversations—informal group counseling where students can connect—Roadrunners have access to an endless number of resources at the Dreamers Resource Center.

Even in the midst of COVID-19, the DRC is hosting events with other UTSA and community partners such as the University Career Center, Wellbeing Services, The Graduate School, and the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. It also collaborates with American Gateways, a nonprofit that serves low-income immigrant communities.

This summer, in collaboration with the First Generation & Transfer Student Center, the Dreamers Resource Center established the first DRC peer-mentor option. Now, for the first time, UTSA first-generation and transfer students can indicate their preference for a peer mentor who has vast experience in the resources available at the DRC and is familiar with the legislative and legal challenges Dreamers and undocumented students face.

UTSA puts students first by cultivating an environment that focuses on their success. As a next-generation Hispanic-thriving, multicultural institution where students from all backgrounds can excel, the university serves as a prosperity engine graduating world-engaged civic leaders of tomorrow.

“Through anecdotal and institutional research, we are aware Dreamers and undocumented students represent various cultures and identities,” Ibarra said. “To ensure the DRC is part of the drive to make UTSA a model for student success, we provide an emphasis on holistic programming that targets the educational, social and wellbeing needs of Dreamers and undocumented students.”

Raul Sandoval ’22, who is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in construction science and management and a minor in business administration, has experienced firsthand the impact of the Dreamers Resource Center.

“The DRC has served me in many positive ways. They have been a great source of information regarding issues around immigration by offering educational forums for both staff and students to attend,” Sandoval said. “They also offer a safe space for DACA/undocumented students to ask for help or advice to be successful at UTSA.”

Sandoval, a native of Coahuila, Mexico, who was raised in Hondo, Texas, added that the “impact they have had on me has been significant to my success at UTSA by offering me guidance and standing alongside students like me, to provide us with advising, financial assistance and platforms to network with students who may have similar backgrounds as mine.”

Sandoval has an additional recommendation to other students. “I would tell them to not be afraid and reach out to the DRC staff,” he said. “Our director, Ms. Damaris (Ibarra), has been exceptional in making sure we have a voice at this institution. For new students seeking counseling, advising or even financial help, these are all resources a student can utilize through the DRC.”

Dreamer Allies are an important part of a student’s support system. These UTSA students, faculty and staff promote a welcoming and knowledgeable university culture for Dreamers, undocumented students and mixed-status families. Allies learn about the experiences the Dreamer and undocumented population face within and outside higher education. They also learn about changes in the state and federal policies. Dreamer Allies have a placard on their offices or Blackboards to identify themselves.

Over the last year, 182 new Dreamer allies have joined the advocacy efforts of the center by completing the Dreamer Ally training. There are now about 385 students, faculty, and staff who have gone through the training at UTSA. The Ally trainings allow individuals to learn the federal and state policies that impact Dreamers, students of mixed-status families, refugees, asylees and those with Temporary Protected Status.

Learn about all the resources available at the Dreamers Resource Center.
Support Dreamers at UTSA.

“Our staff members have an understanding on immigration policies and practices that may affect the Dreamer and undocumented student population,” Ibarra said. “At the DRC, we understand every student situation presented to us is different. Therefore, through our knowledge on immigration policies and reform and our networking efforts with the UTSA community, Dreamer allies and other partners, we strive to connect Dreamers and undocumented students to the areas and resources needed.”

“As UTSA continues to grow in size and continues to lead the way for its diverse student body, no student should feel like they have no one in their corner,” Sandoval added. “The DRC will continue to assist all students from all backgrounds or legal status through countless resources.”

Valerie Bustamante Johnson and Ingrid Wright

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA’s Mission

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.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

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 ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.