Thursday, September 29, 2016

Where's the Comma: Learning How to Use the Writing Center by Jacob Manzoor


As I walked through the student center and turned left at Hofstra Hall, I was feeling anxious and nervous. I passed the foliage of the trees as I approached Mason Hall. I had a Writing Center appointment and was unsure of what to expect. I stepped over the threshold of Room 102 and automatically felt a warm and welcoming vibe. I attribute much of this to the relaxed nature of the tutors and the lack of walls separating the consulting spaces. I was
cordially greeted by David O. who stood tall in his gray sweater sporting a wide smile, which instantaneously made me rest at ease. Originally, I did not come here of my own free will; Professor Gordon said that I needed to go to the Writing Center at least once before handing in my paper. So I wrote my outline and the first few drafts with the help of my peers. After I believed my paper was complete, I decided that this was when I was going to have my work reviewed. Although I was not looking forward to having my assignment looked over by a stranger, my mindset changed completely by the end of my time there.

First I had to schedule an appointment. You could do so by walking into the WC, calling or just going to their website. I decided to introduce myself online; it was quick and easy to create an account and to select a time to meet. All I needed was my name and my 700 number to set up a password. Then I chose the date and whether I wanted to convene in person or online. I decided to do a face-to-face session.

I thought that my paper was adequate---maybe it had a few grammatical mistakes---but that’s about it. When I went there, I was expecting it to be a cold, top-down sort of meeting where I would be told what I did wrong, making me feel belittled. However, this was not the case at all. David and I proceeded to review my work. Instead of generating what seemed like a teacher-student relationship, it felt much more like a friendship. He asked me to read my paper aloud, and I was surprised to hear so many of my mistakes. Next, he explained to me what problems he had come across in my writing. Yes, I had an issue with putting commas in the right places.

Instead of revealing to me where it goes, then quickly moving on to the next pitfall, he explained why the punctuation went in that particular spot, and he helped me to identify my problem so as to not repeat it. Eventually, I started picking out the issues in my own paper. Learning that skill has helped me improve my writing dramatically. Although I came weary and skeptical of what I might
gain from the session, I left with a completely different outlook on the Writing Center.

I was no longer mandated to bring my work to be critiqued, yet I continued to do so because I felt that I would benefit from it. I brought all of my writing assignments to be reviewed before handing them in. With my very next paper, I had scheduled an appointment with Michael to look over an assignment which was due for my geography class. This time I was not skeptical at what the session could help me accomplish, but I was a little hesitant to work with someone other than David. However, I was blown away once again at how friendly and outgoing the tutors are, and Michael was no exception. He is a larger-than-life character whose presence fills the room, immediately making me feel comfortable. Even though he spoke more than David, he made references to modern culture, which made it easier to understand the lesson he was trying to teach. Similarly, he did not look down on me for making mistakes. He used analogies that helped me better understand the concept of coordinating conjunctions and how to use them properly in my paper. As the session progressed, I started to see my own omissions and I corrected them. By the end, I felt enlightened, and I learned a valuable skill that has helped me elevate my writing to a new level.

The third time I had decided to have my paper revised, I did not have the time to come in, so I scheduled an online appointment. It was quick and easy to set up. In lieu of having to go to Mason Hall, I could simply log on via my computer. The fact that the Writing Center is available in so many ways made it easy for me as a commuter to be able to have my paper reviewed on the weekend from home. I used this session to help me develop my concepts for my Political Science class and to condense them into just two pages. Personally, I prefer the face-to-face appointment where I can get to know the individual aiding me.

Nevertheless, I was once again taken aback at how effective was the meeting. David helped me to configure the flow of my essay with smooth transitions into each new idea. When I had asked him to look over my grammar, I was shocked at how my work was error free, after three simple corrections. He told me that I had put all of the commas in the right places and used great terminology in order to present my point across to the reader. I had felt so accomplished that not only did I take and fix my previous papers, but now I am able to prevent the issue from rising again. However, I am not the only person to have benefited from the Writing Center, Raymond Chappan said, “I found the Writing Center to be most helpful. They are non-prejudiced readers whose main purpose is to better my work. I have gone twice and both times I felt that my paper was better developed and that I have truly attained better writing skills.”

When Professor Gordon said that we had to interview a service provider, naturally I chose the Writing Center. I wanted to reveal what a resource it has been to me and my time here at Hofstra. I decided to interview David, since I spent the most time with him. Due to his laid-back and friendly nature, he agreed to be interviewed even with little knowledge as to my assignment and the questions that I would ask. I inquired about what he does there. Through my conversation with him, I learned that the service does not only do scholastic writing; they can help with many different things including resumes, papers, personal writing, even things as such as scripts and comic strips (Olsson). “Basically, if it is anything written, the tutors here can help you work on it in every stage of your writing, from just brainstorming or doing final edits”
(Olsson). There are many instructors in the Writing Center who have appointments every day of the week at many different times. David says that in the average week he helps around thirteen
different people. I found that incredible, so I asked him why he chooses to work at the Writing Center. His response was simple: “I always loved to read, especially about a wide variety of topics. I also wanted to help others, so the WC was a perfect fit.” As a tutor, David reads a variety of different topics and gains more knowledge on a myriad of subjects,while helping people improve their writing. I was also very curious as to what is the number one issue that arises in people's writing. According to him, a lot of people have trouble with the placement and use of commas. I could completely relate to this as I was one of the many who had the exact same issue. He says, “Commas are tricky, but once you know where they go it become a lot easier” (Olsson).

One thing that stood out to me in my interview with David was when he said, “People should know that we are only here to help, not to judge you and criticize you for making mistakes” (Olsson). Through my experiences, I found his statement to be true. No matter how stupid I thought the question was that I was asking, I knew that I could ask it because I wouldn't be ridiculed for it. I have used this facility every single time I have had a paper due, and until I feel that I am completely ready to skip that step, I will continue to do so.

The Writing Center has helped me to develop and to elevate my writing skills to a new level. Even though I was hesitant at first to go to for advice, I am glad to have gone. The tutors have helped me develop my writing in a nonjudgmental and cordial way. I felt at ease and comfortable talking about my writing and I became eager to know how to fix my issues. Like Deanna Weber, I went to the service skeptical and afraid of the unknown, but my experiences there have helped me to grow and have my confidence augmented (Weber). I am now able to take on a writing assignment knowing that I have the skills needed to succeed. I personally believe that if it hadn’t been for Professor Gordon requiring me to take my paper to the Writing Center, I would be a much more inexperienced writer.

Works Cited

David, Olsson. Personal Interview. 14 October 2015.

Raymond, Chappan. On the Writing Center. 26 October 2015.

Weber, Deanna. "Leaping out of the Cave and into the Light." Web log post. Taking Giant Steps . N.p., 11 Sept. 2015. Web.

"Writing Center." Writing Center . Hofstra University, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.

Friday, September 9, 2016

"Invisible Woman" by Morgan Parker

The modern day woman is active. She is a political titan, a social idol and a domestic leader. She has a voice that carries the war cries and merciless intentions of her fallen, but not in vain, predecessors. She speaks not for the ears of others, but for the indulgence and dignity in hearing her own voice. She speaks in statements, she speaks in movements, she speaks for all the empty throats of the women whose voices were drowned out by the heavy lull of time’s ignorance. She is a powerful force beckoning us towards a greater purpose yet still forcing us to find it on our own. Identifying as a modern day woman means many things but, above all else, it requires self discovery and self empowerment. First, I had to discover that I am an invisible woman!

I should say, rather, that I am one among a growing population of invisible women; a group of those unregistered on the visible spectrum of feminism's woman---a woman who is strong, independent and selfish in the best way. She redefined the role of women in the mid-20th century and continues to forge forward in the pursuit of justice. As a movement, feminism has grown and changed to fit the many decades it spans, yet it’s ideal has remained rigidly constant.  In 1963 Betty Friedan, a founder of feminism, wrote “A woman may live half her lifetime before she has the courage to listen to that voice and know that it is not enough to be a wife and mother, because she is a human being herself” (Friedan 5). For feminism’s woman, self-fulfillment is the key to true happiness. No longer should a woman aspire to home-making, but rather to education, to working and to making a life for herself. It is okay to be on a ruthless pursuit of self interest, as it is no longer selfish for a woman to want the best for herself since Friedan proclaimed, “Who knows what women can be when they are finally free to be themselves” (Friedan 10). This was an inspiring and welcomed change for the 1950’s woman because finally she could “learn to listen without fear to the voice inside her instead of smothering it” (Friedan 11). Feminism’s woman gained her trademark of independence to break ground on a new path and begin to change the course. There was now power and fashion behind this woman when the famous words of Gloria Steinem exclaimed, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” (Parker 9).  I, at one time, wanted to be feminism’s woman; one who walks the Earth with eyes wide open, a heart impenetrable and arms outstretched with fingers to grasp only what she wants and palms to cast off that which she does not.

Furthermore, I had always felt that feminism was the most attainable form of liberation a woman could find, but even that no longer seemed true. I tried walking the path of the many remarkable women before me, all the while searching for small similarities to tell me I was headed towards the same great destination. However, all I had to do was look down because my footsteps were nowhere to be found. I had become invisible simply because I could not see myself in it. Alan Watts explains, “Just as sight is something more than all things seen, the foundation or 'ground' of our existence and our awareness cannot be understood in terms of things that are known” (Watts 21). Understandably so, I was invisible because I had tried to see my identity within the already established identity of another. Feminism’s woman was a role in the making years before I tried it on my own skin, which made it feel uncomfortable and restricting. It is of no use to hold onto such identities in “a human world that is changing so rapidly that much of what one learns in school is already obsolete on graduation day” (Watts 13). Thus, as a modern day woman I am challenged to make myself visible by creating my own individual path and understanding my own individual identity. Alan Watts said, “The less I preach, the more likely I am to be heard” (Watts 28). Similarly, the less I force myself upon the world, the more likely I am to be seen.

In this same degree, Gloria Anzaldua’s writing, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” explores creating individual identity against popular opinion. Although her story is one of national identity, the same theme of self-empowerment remains. She says, “Shame. Low estimation of self. Repeated attacks on our native tongue diminish our sense of self. The attacks continue throughout our life” (Anzaldua 2951). Constantly hearing the voices and opinions of others makes it nearly impossible to hear your own. These outside voices try to tell us a lot about ourselves, and believing them is the first way to let them know they are right. Trusting in your identity is just as important as discovering it because in the face of adversity, this is how we keep our tongues untamed and our feet planted in the ground.  Anzaldua writes, “Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself… I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing” (Anzaldua 2951).  

Certainly the modern day woman sees herself in many different ways, but often she neglects to understand the ways in which she is not seen. Through self discovery and self empowerment, we can truly understand individuality and identity. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man says “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me” (Ellison 3). I believe our invisibility occurs in three stages. The first is when our identity is ignored. Our differences go unappreciated by others, so we search to once again become visible in their eyes. We force ourselves into shapes we do not fit, try on uncomfortable skins and walk long paths with no destination in sight; and again, we find ourselves invisible. This time, however, it is because our identity is lost when our differences go unappreciated by ourselves. So again we search to become visible. We discover the reasons why these various shapes and skins and paths are uncomfortable and futile. And this time, we become invisible by choice when we discover our identity is separate from preconceived perceptions. We do not fall on the visible spectrum, because it is our individuality that becomes our identity; we discover the power in our invisibility.

I am an invisible woman; I am a blank piece of paper and an unmolded clay, I am all that has great potential and untold paths, I am all that possesses true freedom. Before I am anyone else, I am my own woman; I walk the Earth with eyes wide open as my heart and arms outstretched towards a great unknown, with fingers to grasp all that is new and palms to hold onto that which I shall keep for myself.  

Works Cited
Anzaldua, Gloria. "How to Tame a Wild Tongue." (n.d.): n. pag. 1987. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

Ellison, Ralph. "Prologue." Introduction. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage International, 1995.
3-14. Print.

Friedan, Betty. "Women Are People, Too!" Good Housekeeping. N.p., 09 Aug. 2010. Web. 06
Dec. 2015.

Parker, Kathleen. "Clinton, Steinem and Albright Are #Outoftouch with Millennial Women." N.p., 16 Feb. 2016. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.

Watts, Alan. "Inside Information." The Book. ABACUS ed. London: Sphere, 1973. N. pag. Print.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

DREAMers' Lives Matter: Undocumented Students in Postsecondary Education by Nalani Goonetilleke



These are our children.  They grew up in our towns, they speak our language, they have worked and learned in our schools.  To leave them permanently exiled within their own world is not a policy – it is an abdication.                                                              
                                                                                        Eric Johnson


Indeed, as the current phrase goes, these undocumented students’ lives matter.  However, everyone has a different notion of what the American Dream entails.  For some it is the security of a white-picket fenced home with 2.5 children, but for newer generations it is often the opportunity to become an engineer, nurse, or even a doctor.  For undocumented students or DREAMers, this vision is often barricaded by federal and state laws that make continuing an education beyond high school a challenge within itself.


Undocumented students are classified as foreign-born students who came to the United States without the proper citizenship documents or entered legally as a nonimmigrant but remained in the United States upon completion of their terms.  Many of our undocumented students who are looking to pursue a higher education have lived in the United States most of their lives, came to the United States at a young age, are English speaking, attended primary and secondary school in the United States, and have excelled in high school.  Traditionally the laws have been peculiar.


The DREAM Act, known as the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, was proposed in Congress in 2001.  It has continuously been reintroduced on the federal level but has not been passed.  The mission of the bill would permit undocumented youth to enlist in the U.S. armed forces or to pursue a higher education.  It would also work towards permanent resident status for undocumented children who were raised in the United States.  Although the federal DREAM Act did not pass, many states have their own version of the DREAM Act.  “At least 20 states have passed tuition equity policies for immigrant students, according to Tanya Broder, senior attorney at National Immigration Law Center.” (2015)  The state DREAM Acts are generally geared to supporting in-state tuition or eligibility for scholarships or state financial aid for undocumented students.  However, the qualifications are based on the state and the institution.  Upward social mobility for this targeted group would be the end result of the DREAM Act, but the legislature is resistant to passing it.  In the interim, another policy was established to alleviate some of the hardships that DREAMers face.


DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy that was established in 2012 by President Obama, supports deferred deportation to individuals who came to the United States under the age of 16 and are currently under the age of 31; there are also requirements that the individual must meet in order to qualify.  “DACA provides legal presence, but not legal status.” (2015)  Legal presence permits individuals to apply for employment, receive a Social Security number, and obtain a driver’s license.  This can increase their mobility economically and socially.  The policy grants a two-year period; however, the individual can renew if he/she still meets the requirements.  However, even in applying for DACA, the individual must openly expose their immigration status and contact information to the government.  Applying does not guarantee that they will be eligible. 


Laura Bohorquez contends: “The main difference is the DREAM Act would have given the community a path to residency and eventually citizenship… DACA is just work permit and protection from deportation.  It allows us to be able to work and afford our school, but it’s not a path to any type of status.” (2015)  Legal presence does not equate to legal status.  It is merely an acceptable way of being present in the United States.  DACA is a band-aid solution that essentially is enabling trouble. 


In Plyler v. Doe, the presence of minors in the education system also proved to be permissible. This 1982 Supreme Court case determined that all students in grades K-12 were guaranteed an education, regardless of their citizenship or residency status. (Perez 2014) This set the stage for undocumented children to have hope.  “According to the ruling, denying them that education would create a ‘lifetime of hardship’ for undocumented children and a ‘permanent underclass’ of individuals.” (Eusebio and Mendoza 4) The decision promised an education to all students, but this did not extend to a postsecondary education, where they could fulfill their dreams of becoming an engineer, nurse, or doctor.  Legally these students are required to attend school in grades K-12 but barriers are immediately in place once they work on continuing and advancing their education. 


My education progressed in the Freeport School District in Long Island from grades 1st through 12th.  The district’s demographics ranged from approximately 5% Whites, 32% Blacks, 2% Asians, and 59% Hispanics, with 17% limited English proficient students.  (Freeport School District) My graduating class at Freeport High School was filled with what I then believed to be students who lacked motivation because they did not continue their education beyond the high school diploma or GED.  In hindsight, perhaps it was a much more complex situation at hand.


It is my own experience that really evokes a distinct passion surrounding undocumented students.  Through my cousin Dushan, I have witnessed the personal struggles of an undocumented individual and the difficulties that he had obtaining a college education.  Dushan came to the United States as a child without the proper legal documents.  Growing up he experienced a life that was fully entangled into the American culture.  His parents worked to best adapt to American customs while encompassing our Sri Lankan heritage.  Upon completion of his senior year of high school, he, like his peers, strived towards a college degree.  He began taking courses at a community college because he was ineligible to receive financial aid.  During his time at the community college he excelled in all of his classes.  His parents were not able to keep up the college tuition expenses.  Unfortunately, a college degree became out of reach.  Twenty years later, he is a father of a high school senior.  He has high hopes of his son achieving the university diploma that he was unable to attain.  Perhaps the admission of Dushans’ son into college will be more accessible, simply based on his residency status.


College admission policies, tuition, and financial aid are three areas in which there are tremendous barriers for undocumented students.  These barriers do not make it impossible for the student but rather extremely difficult especially for a DREAMer who is already under difficult circumstances.  In respect to college admission, “there is no federal or state law that prohibits the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. college, public or private.” ("Advising Undocumented Students – Explaining Financial Aid | Education Professionals – The College Board”) However, on the contrary, each institution has different policies on admitting this demographic of students.  This policy can either work in favor of the student or be a great disservice to them.  Public institutions follow the guidelines of the state laws, giving them very little leeway to provide more access if the state does not do so.  Private institutions are autonomous and are not heavily-ruled or impacted by the government. 


Undocumented students are unable to receive federal funding for their education, which comes in the form of federal financial aid, work study and government loans.  They are often forced to pay out-of-state tuition rates regardless of them being in-state students.  Tuition for full-time enrollment can range from $15,000 to $40,000 per year.  More often these students are generally classified as international students, especially at private colleges and universities, despite any recognition of being a state resident.  International students receive significantly less aid.  The Institute for International Education (IIE) reported for the 2004-05 school year, it found that 80.9% of international students used payments extending from personal or family resources.  (“Financial Aid for Undergraduate International Students”) When classified as an international student, the undocumented student competes with students worldwide to fulfill the international quota at the institution.  Tuition at private institutions ranges from $80,000 to $200,000 over the span of four years.  Each state has different laws pertaining to funding and tuition for undocumented students.  Twenty states permit undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, including Florida and Utah.  States such as Alabama, South Carolina, and certain institutions in Georgia do not even permit undocumented students from even enrolling.  California, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma (certain grants), Washington state, and Texas provide state-based aid.  Illinois is the only state that has private scholarships for this population of students.  (Eusebio and Mendoza 2) Most undocumented students rely heavily on private scholarships which are still hard to attain due to most requiring one to be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal residence.


Different states providing different levels of access to undocumented students create an uneven playing field for the undocumented community.  One student may have a more promising future simply based on the region that they live in.  States that provide in-state tuition or state-based aid demonstrate to their residents that they are willing to deliver more opportunities to future generations and future leaders. “In 2011, three states passed their in-state tuition laws including Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island.” (Rincon, 2016) In addition, “both California and Illinois passed laws to permit undocumented immigrant students’ greater access to such resources.” (Rincon 2016) California has the largest number of undocumented immigrants, representing 25% of all.  When states pass laws that are influential in determining the success of a prospective student, it impacts not only the student but it affects the family members, communities, the state and then the nation as a whole.  Breaking barriers to permit greater access to undocumented students has a profound effect ultimately on the nation.  The more that is invested into all millennials, the better equipped they are for the workforce, which positively effects our economy.


The state of California has tuition and financial aid policies that help undocumented students enroll at public institutions.  In addition, the costs are affordable and reasonable to the students.  On the other hand, states such as Georgia do not permit undocumented students to attend public institutions.  In the state of Missouri, there are constraints on tuition discounts and aid at state universities and colleges.  The state legislature of Missouri passed a law that undocumented students even with the DACA status were not eligible to receive scholarships toward community college tuition. (Gordon 2016) DACA recipients who qualify for in-state tuition increase the chance of pursuing a higher education because it becomes more affordable.  The affordability aspect makes college more accessible.  In addition, it increases the student’s persistence in completing their degree.


One of the continuing debates surrounds the issue of in-state versus out-of-state tuition:  Should longtime residents be charged in-state or out-of-state tuition?  “In February, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the higher tuition when it ruled that the higher-education governing board could not be sued by immigrant advocates.” (Gordon 2016) The PBS article (Gordon 2016), states that at Georgia Southern University out-of-state tuition is $9,222 compared to $2,613, the tuition dollar for in-state residents.  In addition to the tuition debate, there is another debate surrounding DACA status for state financial aid: Should the student be eligible for state financial aid based on their DACA status?  State decisions largely contribute to this minority group transitioning into college.  Since undocumented students do not qualify for federal aid, when a state provides more financial assistance, more DREAMers become qualified to advance their education.


The “Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students” is a valuable source to students who are trying to get into a university. (Rincon 2016)  It provides information on selected state’s college guides, financial aid, scholarships, and support organizations.  The admission information focuses on available university guidelines and sample affidavits that undocumented students are required to complete.  The site contains information on scholarships and it further indicates the states that do provide financial aid.  Furthermore, the resource provides associations that work towards assisting undocumented students into higher education.  As previously illustrated, undocumented students are generally first-generation students, and therefore, the families often are not as knowledgeable about the resources or services available in order for these students to pursue a higher education. 


Additionally, this lack of familiarity extends to guidance counselors and support staff.  High school counselors may not be experienced in guiding undocumented students in how they can further their education, especially with all of the barriers that are dealt with.  The resources that are available are limited which only add to their limitations.  Educators, admission officers, and financial aid counselors need to be more familiar with the immigration laws.  These students need advocates as they navigate through an already perplexing system.  Once they are enrolled, administrators need to work on retaining the student.  Certain institutions have not updated their scholarship information on their website, which can deter students from even realizing that they are eligible to apply.


Throughout the history of higher education, each diverse group has experienced difficulties in breaking into higher education.  College initially began as solely geared for the elite.  From there different careers and jobs were added, which brought in and appealed to a different group of students.  This became a pattern in higher education; certain events were a catalyst to welcoming or embracing new students.  One very prominent time in history was the initiation of the GI Bill, which granted more access to veterans. 


Women and ethnic-minorities were once taboo in academia.  Today, institutions are filled with minorities of different backgrounds, gender, race, and disability status.  Higher education at one point was not an option for these groups of people; however, through time, college became more accessible.  It is with much hope that undocumented students will be able to attain greater access in higher education, so that they too can be just as remarkable and contribute to the collegial education system.  Obstacles for this targeted group carry throughout their educational experience.


With so many challenges being present for entering into college, many wonder about the challenges post-college.  There are opportunities available to undocumented students after they have obtained their degree.  Options include graduate school and various forms of legal employment which can consist of self-employed as an independent contractor, starting a company or working abroad.  In addition, in California DACA recipients can acquire their licenses in law, medicine, nursing and pharmacy.  A college degree determines and mitigates occupational status and socioeconomic status.  This population has been raised to strive for a better life.


According to the American Psychological Association, “There are one million children under 18 and 4.4 million under 30 living in America out of the estimated total of 11.1 million undocumented immigrants living in America….Nearly half of undocumented adults are parents of minors, many of whom are citizens.  There are an estimated 5.5 million children with at least one undocumented parent, 4.5 million of whom were born here making them U.S. citizens.” (“Undocumented Americans”) One million children under the age of 18 possess exceptional characteristics and have lived a life where they have triumphed adversity. 


“Brought to this country years ago, spirited across a border they were too young to comprehend by parents who wanted better for them, the children are beginning to understand their outlaw status.  They’ve begun to realize that our laws treat them as indefinite accomplices to a crime committed when they were toddlers.” (Johnson 2016) Living in a country illegally is not commended but often certain circumstances force families to choose that alternative in hopes of attaining a better life.  Once the student is here and has been educated through our system and adapted to our culture, how can we now make the “American Dream” so hard for them to reach?  Their family altered a certain lifestyle in order for them to succeed in the United States, but with obstacles in place, many of their hopes and dreams are put aside.  As Langston Hughes expressed, “what happens to a dream deferred?” (“Harlem – Poetry Foundation”) In examining students who are undocumented, each individual case is different.  However, many of these students come into the United States when they are younger and may even be unaware that they are undocumented.  Ironically, their immigration status may not be a factor that they are aware of until it is time for them to apply for college.  I hope this is not an answer to Hughe’s last line : “Or does it explode?” (“Harlem – Poetry Foundation”)


If we turn a blind eye to these students, then what it is to become of them?  Life with a college degree provides an entry way to a much better life; without a college degree life is significantly harder.  How can we expect those living in poverty and receiving government assistance to better themselves?  The Pew Hispanic Research Center, found that “nearly 30% of undocumented children live below the poverty line.” (Navarro 2013) A college education provides a life above the poverty level.  It is an entrance way to new opportunities, social mobility, and a better economic state.  If the DREAM Act were passed, students would be able to receive more financial assistance.  Although 30% live in poverty, that 30% would have boundless opportunities.


Consequently, the research reveals that undocumented students face an overwhelming number of adversities including “poverty, assimilation, language barriers, violence in their community or home environment, lack of access to health care, and mental health issues.”  (Eusebio and Mendoza 5) In facing a plethora of adversities, the pursuit of a postsecondary education is a major achievement.  The challenges that undocumented students face can also impede or impact their learning.  It has been shown that a great deal of undocumented students suffers from high levels of anxiety.  The frustrations and fears that undocumented students encounter on a daily basis include “isolation from their peers, the struggle to pursue an education, fears of detention and deportation, and the trauma of separation from family and loved ones.” (“Undocumented Americans”) 


The APA (“Undocumented Americans”) article further adds that this population is more likely to experience “racial profiling, ongoing discrimination, exposure to gangs, immigration raids in their communities, arbitrary stopping of family members to check their documentation status, being forcibly taken or separated from their families, returning home to find their families have been taken away, placement in detention camps or the child welfare system, and deportation.”  Having to deal with stressful situations on a regular basis plays a significant role on the individual’s emotions and behaviors. 


Many undocumented students demonstrate anxiety, fear, depression, anger, social isolation, and a lack of truly feeling as if they belong.  Undocumented individuals that have been detained or deported have a greater likelihood of possessing more emotionally disturbed characteristics.  “Researchers have found that they often experience in the short term, frequent crying, withdrawal, disrupted eating and sleeping patterns, anger, anxiety and depression.  Over time, these can lead to more sever issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, poor identity formation, difficulty forming relationships, feelings of persecution, distrust of institutions and authority figures, acting out behaviors and difficulties at school.” (“Undocumented Americans”) The feelings that these individuals have represent the traumatic real-life experiences that they have encountered.


Mental health is a major concern and a growing health issue with college-age students, which have been increasing over the years.  It is also linked to retention and academic performance. (Sierup 2015) Anxiety is the number one mental health issue amongst college students.  In addition to the previously mentioned persistent stressors that undocumented students deal with, there is also stress in just being a student.  The undocumented student is a minority and first-generation student.  There are so many expectations and pressures to succeed tied in with financial hardship and the traditional pressures that most students face.    


Depression is the second common mental health issue found on campuses.  College students are typically underinsured or uninsured and do not have access to mental health providers.  A psychiatric consultation ranges from $200-$600 and a psychological consultation fee ranges from $125-$300. (Seirup 2015) With the stress that this population already has plus the lack of access to healthcare, it is imperative that greater support be given to this population.  For the traditional college student, mental health is a huge issue, let alone for an undocumented student who is already struggling financially.


The benefits of a college education are limitless but as a nation we limit these benefits to those who fall under certain standards.  An undocumented student should not have a surplus of barriers just to advance themselves in society.  More education equates more opportunities.  Unemployment rates for those with less than a high school diploma are 11.2%, high school graduate 7.9%, some college 6.7%, and bachelors or higher 3.8%. (Seirup 2015)


Not only do students who graduate with a baccalaureate degree have a higher likelihood of being employed but they also earn more money over their lifetime.  The US Census found that the median earnings year round for full-time employment for individuals with less than a high school diploma $25,702, high school diploma $35,035, associate’s degree $42,419, bachelor’s degree $55,864, and master’s degree $68,879. (Seirup 2015) Financially the earnings separate college graduates from non-graduates but their also differences can be seen in their career, personal life, and their community involvement.  College graduates earn more money over their lifetime, earn more promotions, and have a less inconsistent job history. 


The personal life of a college graduate is generally filled with more developed relationships with people, fewer children on average, more involved in children’s lives, and stay married to the same person for a longer time.  College graduates are more likely to be leaders in their community, elected to public office, and enjoy the arts.  Traits or circumstances that college graduates are less likely to have would be unwillingly unemployed, use tobacco products, be swindled, be imprisoned, and become dependent on alcohol or drugs.  (Seirup 2015) The overall impact of a college education develops the individual’s knowledge, skills, increase self-awareness, understanding of the world of work, appreciation of lifelong learning, leadership roles, upward social mobility, and an increase in self-confidence and wellness. (Seirup 2015)


The benefits of attaining a college degree exceed that of not having a degree.  The positive qualities, attributes, and knowledge that is acquired during your undergraduate studies shapes and molds better citizens and individuals, undocumented students should not be counted out of these opportunities.  There is so much potential for success in their communities that needs to be evolved.  The lifelong effects of a postsecondary education truly cultivate an individual.  The college experience can shape a student’s attitudes and values.  HCAS Review of Research found that college influences a student’s view on “cultural, educational, sociopolitical, gender roles, religion, community and civic engagement.” (Seirup 2015)


It is at the institution that students are able to step out of their traditional element and onto new experiences.  Students are exposed to an array of events, people, and experiences which broadens their views, ideas, and actions.  For example, civic engagement during these formative years can also lead to greater community involvement post-college.  There is an increase in multicultural perspective, which results in an “increase in positive attitudes towards racial equality, tolerance, and preference.” (Seirup 2015) Furthermore, there is more value placed on “job autonomy, responsibility, and opportunity to use talents.” (Seirup 2015) The value of education is generally passed onto one generation to the next.  With undocumented students being the first-generation, it would promote a way out of poverty and into a more fulfilling life.


Today’s college or university places a strong focal point on diversity.  The enrollment and retainment of minorities as a whole has increased.  The Census Data has projected an increase in minority students and decrease in non-Hispanic whites by 2050.  (Seirup 2015) As minority groups increase on campus, presumably this will add to the volume of undocumented students as well.  Future administrators who are cognizant of trends will better prepare the institution in meeting the needs of the students they serve.  These groups of intelligent “DREAMers” have unique needs that administrators, support staff, and faculty members have to be willing to identify and effectively meet.  Multicultural competencies at colleges are significant; it shows the importance of being aware and knowledgeable of different cultures.  In working with undocumented students, it is key not to generalize and to be able to communicate amongst different cultures.  Demonstrating cultural sensitivity and appropriation brings a sense of comfort to prospective and current undocumented students as well as their families.  For many, this is the first family member to attend college in the United States; there is much pressure and uncertainty for both the student and the parents.  There are high expectations for the student to succeed.  If the institution in its entirety maintains a diverse culture and climate, then it will provide a better welcoming and sense of warmth to these dreamers.


The term “DREAMers” is frequently used to describe undocumented students.  A dreamer, deriving from the term dream, has various associations.  One of the most influential and memorable connotations is Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  The remarkable and thought-evoking address describes a world in which people of all backgrounds are able to get along.  Not only does Martin Luther King Jr. envision a world of peace for all people but he states, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” (King 1963) Similarly, this notion of a dream, nonetheless the American dream, holds strong barriers to the present day dreamers.  They too are looking to attain the American Dream. 


Although the American Dream comes in different forms and ideas, it centers on the concept of equality for all.  Equality of all people shouldn’t be contingent upon citizen status or ethnic background, rather the drive or enthusiasm that each individual has that pushes them to greatness.  “By the content of their character,” Martin Luther King Jr., urged. (King 1963) Over fifty years later, this statement still holds significance in the minority population.  It is no irony that that joins the term DREAMers in both of the senses but rather the connection that is shared.


It was in the fourth grade that we learned about the terms melting pot and equality.  We were also educated on how people migrated to this country just to have equal rights.  Twenty years later, I am left perplexed by what I learned in the education system of melting pots and equality and how it does not seem to apply to everyone.  As an American citizen, I will presumably work on my American dream of the white-picket fence.  And for the DREAMerS, they will silently scream for equality and silently scream for a chance in pursuing their education, while maintaining high hopes of not being deported.  Although raised and educated in the United States, they still have not received their piece of the American dream.



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