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“A Scholarship Program Makes College A Reality for Undocumented Students” – NBC News Highlights New Class of TheDream.US Scholars

For Immediate Release: October 8, 2019

Contact: Nicky Vogt at 610-389-1314 and [email protected] 


“A Scholarship Program Makes College A Reality for Undocumented Students” – NBC News Highlights New Class of TheDream.US Scholars


Washington, DC – A new story in NBC News, “A scholarship program makes college a reality for undocumented students,” highlights the new class of TheDream.US Scholars for the 2019-2020 academic year, including Lily Alvarado of Georgia and Jorge from Texas. 


As the NBC story underscores, despite the uncertainty surrounding their own futures due to the precarious state of DACA, DREAMers are pushing forward to obtain a college education and applying their talents, skills, and energy toward this country and their communities.  


See below for excerpts from Patricia Guadalupe’s NBC News story, “A scholarship program makes college a reality for undocumented students


“With the academic year in full swing, thousands of college students across the country are unable to pay for a higher education because their legal status blocks them from scholarships or financial aid, including from the federal government, the largest provider. But over 1,000 students … have received scholarships from TheDream.US, an organization that seeks to eliminate obstacles to education for undocumented students.


… ‘It doesn’t make any sense that as soon as you work hard and finish high school, you hit this brick wall. If not for this money, these students would not be able to go to school,’ said Gaby Pacheco, program director for advocacy and communication …’These students are very motivated and understand the power of education. They want to give back … They understand the importance of being in their communities; when given the opportunity they run with it.’”


Liliana Alvarado considers the scholarship program a lifesaver. Alvarado came to the United States from Mexico when she was 5 and didn’t know she lacked legal documentation until she was 16 and tried to get a driver’s license. ‘I needed a Social Security number and I didn’t have one and that’s when my mother told me,’ Alvarado said. ‘That’s when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to go to college, which had been my dream. I felt like I didn’t have any options.’


After graduating from high school, Alvarado worked in a variety of odd jobs — including in a laundromat and as a waitress — while she tried to figure out what to do. ‘It was a real hard time mentally because I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere and that there was no hope,’ she said. Alvarado heard about the scholarship and applied. She said it has completely changed her life. Alvarado enrolled in college — Oglethorpe University near her home in Atlanta — and is currently majoring in journalism, the first one in her family to pursue a higher education degree. ‘It made me lose the shame that I was feeling of being undocumented,’ Alvarado said. ‘I’m at the place where I wanted to be for so long, and I’m very happy about it.’


Jorge, whose wanted to be identified by his first name because his parents are undocumented, is a TheDream.US scholar attending college in Dallas. He arrived from Mexico as a small child. ‘Since I’m not a citizen, I wasn’t able to receive scholarships, and my financial aid was very low. I want to go to school but I didn’t want to bury myself or my parents in debt,’ he told NBC News. ‘I’m repaying everything my parents did for me by going to school.’ Jorge is majoring in psychology and said he wants to eventually become a therapist. ‘I like the feeling when I help someone,’ he said.”


The NBC story also quotes CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez: 


“‘The level of joy and security that this has provided is immense. Put yourself in the shoes of that undocumented student,’ said Matos Rodríguez, adding the scholarship programs has ‘done wonders’ for students’ self-esteem. ‘Many of them didn’t know their legal status until they applied to college. These are students who thought that every door was closed to them.’ More important, the scholarship program is successful, with a 90 percent retention rate, Matos Rodríguez said.”


About TheDream.US

TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college access and success program for immigrant youth, having provided more than 5,000 college scholarships to DREAMers at more than 70 partner colleges in 16 states and Washington, DC. The organization believes that all young people, regardless of where they were born, should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential, gain an education, and fully participate in the country that they call home. 


TheDream.US has also adopted new immigration eligibility criteria for more information visit TheDream.US website. The 2020-21 Scholarship round will open for applications on November 1, 2019.

    • Read through TheDream.US Scholar story-bank, featuring powerful personal reflections from Scholars about their lives, journeys, and future goals here


  • In Spring 2019, TheDream.US celebrated the graduation of more than 300 Scholars from partner colleges across the country. Watch a video featuring TheDream.US spring 2019 college graduates: here