FRESNO, California (KGPE) –It’s Undocumented Student Action Week at Fresno City College. The Dream Center, a place where immigrant students can access resources, is hosting a series of workshops aimed at better supporting them on campus.
Jose Zamora is a Social Studies major who is grateful for the Dream Center.
“I felt like the counselor understood me,” he shares.
Zamora was born in Mexico, and like many immigrants, he was brought to the U.S at a young age.”
“I was three years old, turning four.”
He’s now finishing his last semester at FCC, but says it’s been an uphill battle.
“After high school I was very discouraged, I didn’t wanna go back to school.”
That’s because he realized what it really meant to be undocumented in the U.S.
“One of my friends was like, ‘How are you gonna afford college if you’re an immigrant?’ And that’s when I really thought: ‘How am I?’
Zamora’s story is one of the hundreds at the city college.
“We have a little bit over 600 students who we serve here,” Dream Center counselor Lupita Garcia said.
The Fresno City College Dream Center opened in 2015 and was one of only five centers in the state at the time. Since then, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office has directed all its colleges to provide centers or services to undocumented students.
At FCC, undocumented students have access to resources like academic advising, financial aid guidance, and immigration services.
Garcia says immigrant students face unique challenges like not being eligible for federal financial aid.
“Sometimes because of their status they cannot find jobs.”
This week, the center is hosting workshops “to bring awareness not only to students but to faculty, staff and community members about how can we better serve our undocumented population,” Garcia said.
On Wednesday, they heard from students about their challenges during the pandemic. Other workshops throughout the week discuss ways staff & faculty can develop a better understanding of undocumented students’ experiences, and advise on financing a new or existing business as an undocumented entrepreneur.
“It emotionally just drained me,” Zamora said of his experience during a year of virtual learning.
Zamora is now getting ready to transfer to a 4-year university, and he says he’s one step closer to his dream of becoming a teacher.