The second annual Bruin Dreams Scholarship Recognition Dinner was held on Nov. 14 in the Student Event Center at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
The dinner recognizes undocumented students and their families for the scholarships they receive at Salt Lake Community College. The Undocumented Student Resource Committee (USRC) organizes the dinner as part of its goal to raise awareness about the experiences and successes of undocumented students.
SLCC values the involvement undocumented students bring to the college community and is devoted to helping them reach their goals and ambitions.
How the USRC helps students
“The committee is made of SLCC staff and faculty as well as community partners that organize[s] around issues pertaining to undocumented students,” says admissions and concurrent enrollment advisor Lisa Molina.
Molina adds the USRC has “worked diligently” to advocate for undocumented students and support their success.
“In order to set them up for success, the committee has been receiving donations for the Bruin Dreams Scholarship, formerly known as the Bruin Becas Scholarship,” Molina says.
In addition to a $25,000 donation from the Telemachus Foundation and an anonymous donation of $10,000, numerous SLCC staff members donated from their individual paychecks to make the Bruin Dreams Scholarship possible. As a result, the number of recipients has more than doubled since last year.
Dream Center now open
SLCC currently serves the largest population of undocumented students in the state of Utah. With the grand opening of the Dream Center, aiding undocumented students and mixed-status families with college access to graduation or transfers became a lot easier.
The center aims to provide individualized advising and scholarship support for current and future undocumented students at SLCC.
Powerful stories shared
During the recognition dinner, SLCC students and Bruin Dreams Scholarship recipients Guadalupe Porras and Mariella Mendoza were asked to represent this year’s scholars and share their stories.
Both students have come a long way, but have proven the true meaning of perseverance. Their speeches were emotional, raw and overall powerful.
“The reason I am standing here is because remarkable people [have] helped me in many ways,” says Porras, a humanities major. “SLCC has amazing people, such as advisors, instructors and student leaders, that have opened a door of hope to a new life for me. I am grateful for the opportunities available on campus.”
Porras thanked the Dream Center, the sponsors and donors for helping her achieve her academic goals. Through the Bruin Dreams Scholarship, she is continuing her journey to finish school and find a job that will not require her “hands to bleed.”
Mendoza’s tear-jerking speech captured the audience.
“Starting college at 29 was never a part of my plan; in fact, from a big part of my childhood, going to college didn’t feel like an option,” says Mendoza, a visual art and design major. “I’m proud and thankful to have persevered through many obstacles, and to now begin yet another journey, not just as a muralist or a visual artist, but as a student here at SLCC. The circumstances of my journey have empowered me to empower others.”
The hardships and struggles Mendoza has faced in her lifetime have not stopped her from looking to the light and fulfilling her academic goals. She is in her second semester at SLCC.
“Today, I am telling you my story, not because I’m proud of what has happened to me, but because I’m proud of my survival,” Mendoza says. “I believe this community needs us; it needs young leaders who can push through when things get tough. Even in the darkest moments I see the positive impact our community has in this city and in this world. I see our people pushing through that concrete.”
A special recognition to Luis Garza
The Bruin Dream Dinner honored Luis Garza for the work he has done for the community.
Garza is the executive director for Comunidades Unidas, an immigrant rights organization in the state of Utah. They are a non-profit organization that focuses on empowering Lantinx people, helping them acknowledge and attain their own potential to be a positive force for change in the larger community.
Garza immigrated to the United States at the age of 16 and has been living in Utah ever since, working towards organizing immigrant and Lantinx communities around important issues such as health care, immigration and environmental justice.
Butterfly of hope
This year, the Bruin Dreams Scholarship honored nine recipients, not only for their outstanding achievements in their academic pursuits, but also for their contribution to our community.
For their ingenuity and strength to overcome challenges, these nine students also received a special monarch butterfly pin, symbolizing hope for the millions of other students who are living in the U.S. surmounting obstacles every day to live out their aspirations.
No room for hate
According to the USRC, the committee works to offer caring and personalized support to undocumented students. The group fosters a sense of belonging and well-being for all undocumented students on campus.
“There’s no room for hate in our community, but there’s plenty of room for love and refuge,” Mendoza says.