Undocumented status can add an additional challenge into the already complex college application process.
“For undocumented students, there are so many barriers to pursuing higher education: an unstable political climate, a lack of clarity around university policies, the cost of attendance and less access to financial aid, and concerns about travel and safety, to name a few,” said Jessica Ch’ng, senior assistant director, multicultural recruitment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
To work toward breaking down these barriers, Ch’ng used a NACAC Imagine Fund grant.
Ch’ng, representing MIT admission, started collaborating with Unafraid Educators, a group within Boston Teachers’ Union supporting undocumented students, and Student Immigrant Movement, a local CBO supporting undocumented students, to create programming for educators and students in the Boston area.
Together they hosted a workshop for counselors to learn about DACA, the challenges faced by undocumented students in the college/financial aid application process, and potential legal remedies for students.
They put on a workshop for high school students and educators to learn about applying for college and financial aid as an undocumented student.
She took a group of students to the theatrical performance of Wet: A DACAmented Journey and co-facilitated a professional development event with Student Immigrant Movement for Boston Public School counselors.
The NACAC Imagine Fund grant also helped create signs that educators could post on their doors at school to signal their support for undocumented students.
“These events gave us an opportunity not only to serve students but to develop relationships between our communities and institutions. These relationships build our capacity to support local undocumented students. We have a better sense of what each institution can contribute and combining our efforts enable us to reach more students,” Ch’ng said.
“We hope to continue offering college access workshops for local undocumented students and educators/counselors.”
Donate Now: Imagine Fund grants offer financial support to individuals or NACAC affiliates. Funds are used to support professional development, as well as innovative programs serving students and/or the profession.
Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s senior communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.