As a burgeoning undocumented population seeking educational and financial opportunities, AB540 students will be able to participate in their very first conference held in the Fullerton College cafeteria on March 11 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
This will allow them to mingle with fellow peers, network with faculty members available in FC and other institutions, and access valuable resources to equip them for the future.
According to professor Sylvia Pimentel, organizer of the conference, AB540 students are loosely defined as “undocumented students who have completed three or more years of high school, are seeking education, and may have additional needs in terms of programs like financial aid.”
In order to address the students’ concerns for furthering their education in spite of obstacles, Pimentel wrote the proposal to launch the Grads2Be program.
Administration was strongly supportive.
The program intends to serve empowered, educated and undocumented students.
“It’s quite a struggle for undocumented students as they need to deal with multiple stressors outside of school, such as working a bit more than the average student or possibly assisting their parents financially, not to mention dealing with the status of the undocumented,” Pimentel said. “My goal was to discover how I can empower these students to decrease their isolation, increase networking opportunities and provide access to resources.”
Grads2Be mentors, Omar Hernandez and Lizbeth Trujillo, mentioned in the program’s welcome letter that they shared the same sentiment as they were both AB540 students and experienced the struggles firsthand.
“My journey as an AB540 student has not been an easy task because of the limitations and sacrifices I have had to overcome,” Hernandez said, a recent CSUF graduate. “My experience has created a passion to mentor and motivate others to pursue their goals.”
“As an undocumented student in college, I know the confusion, fear, and frustration associated with it,” Trujillo said, another CSUF graduate. “I also know that sense of fulfillment when you look back and realize all your work paid off.”
Due to nearly two-thirds of the undocumented student population hesitating to seek help, possibly from lack of support or knowledge of resources, Professor Pimentel wants to build an avenue to facilitate their development and assure students that there certainly is access to what they may be looking for.
Fortunately, the AB540 conference is one of many services offered under the Grads2Be program for undocumented students by online invitation only.
As the first of its kind, the conference will touch on subjects such as financial aid, admissions and records, addressing the needs and faces of undocumented students, and a guide for high school students transitioning into college.
“The goal was to provide a wide range of topics pertinent to the goals of the Grads2Be program,” Pimentel said. “We also wanted to raise a level of consciousness among faculty and staff by training them to create a welcoming environment for students.”
Transfer institutions such as Cal State Northridge, CSUF, San Diego State University and more will join with their respective AB540 programs for students to explore transfer options.
The conference has also invited a keynote speaker from UCLA who will highlight the humanistic aspects of AB540 students.
“I hope AB540 students will realize the richness they bring to an institution through this conference,” Pimentel said.
Registration is free, but space is limited. Continental breakfast, lunch and parking will be included.