Research on Undocumented Students in Higher Education is Conference Focus

Oct. 22-23 event brings together scholars, students and community members

blue butterfly logo for conference

Current research about undocumented students in higher education is the subject of a conference at UCR on Oct. 22-23.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Scholars, students, and community members will explore current research about undocumented students in higher education in a two-day conference at the University of California, Riverside on Oct. 22-23.

The event, “Challenging Borders: Centering Undocumented Student Voices in Higher Education,” begins with a keynote lecture by Laura Soltis, executive director of Freedom University in Atlanta, Georgia, at 5:15 p.m. Oct. 22 in College Building South 114.

The all-day program on Oct. 23, which will be held in Interdisciplinary Building 1113, will include presentations by scholars whose research addresses issues faced by undocumented students and students themselves.

The keynote lecture and conference are free and open to the public, but registration is required. Due to the high volume of registrations to date, the symposium will stream live from the main room to an overflow room. Guests will be seated first-come, first-served basis. Parking is free. Permits are available at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

“This not a conference by academics for academics,” said Jennifer Nájera, associate professor of ethnic studies. “I have been working with the undocumented student community at UC Riverside for the last couple of years and it’s amazing to see the kind of activist work they do, what they’ve accomplished to get people in institutions to commit resources to the undocumented student community, and to talk about the needs they have that still need to be meet. I wanted convene something at UCR where academics and community members can meet to discuss ways to better serve undocumented students in the Inland Empire and beyond.”

Soltis, a professor of human rights and documentary photography at Freedom University, will discuss “Radical Education: The Freedom School Tradition and Fulfilling the Human Right to Education for Undocumented Students in Georgia.” She is a longtime activist who is committed to increasing access to higher education for undocumented students and to helping undocumented students build their skills to be leaders in the immigration rights movement.

Freedom University, modeled after the freedom schools of the Civil Rights Movement, was founded in 2011 by undocumented youth activists and four professors at the University of Georgia. It provides tuition-free, college-level classes, scholarship assistance and leadership development for undocumented students in Georgia, the only state in the country to ban students from both public universities and in-state tuition.

The program on Oct. 23 begins at 8:30 a.m. Panels include:

  • Undocumented Youth Political Identities – Susana Munoz, Colorado State University, “Legal Status as a Social Identity: The Construction of Legal Status for Undocumented Latina/o Youth who Self-Identify as ‘Undocumented and Unafraid’”; Edwin Elias, UC Riverside, “Don’t Label Me a DREAMER: Undocumented students identity after DACA and CA Dream Act”; and Tom Wong, UC San Diego“The Political Incorporation of Undocumented Youth”
  • Undocumented Youth: Work, Organizing, and Education in the DACA Era – Leisy Abrego, UCLA, “‘I can reevaluate my goals’: DACA for Students and Workers”; Jennifer Nájera, UCR, “Undocumented Students and Community Work: Building Pathways to the Institution of the University”; and Genevieve Negron Gonzales, University of San Francisco, “Who Has a Right to DREAM?  Undocumented Community College Students Navigate Dual Identities as Undocumented Students & “Illegal” Low-Wage Workers”
  • Navigating Diverging Educational Pipelines – Marisol Clark Ibáñez, CSU San Marcos, “Lessons from the (Leaking) Educational Pipeline for Undocumented Students”; Lindsay Perez Huber, CSU Long Beach, “Como una jaula de oro (It’s like a golden cage): The impact of DACA and the California DREAM Act on Undocumented Chicanas/Latinas”; and William Pérez, Claremont Graduate University, “Higher Education Access Among DACAmented, Undocumented, and Deported Mexican Young Adults”

Conference organizers include Nájera; Ana Coria, program coordinator, Undocumented Student Programs; graduate students Edwin Elias, sociology, Steven Moreno-Terrill, education, and Frank Perez, ethnic studies; and undergraduate student Dalila Valdez, vice president of Providing Opportunities, Dreams, and Education in Riverside (PODER).

Event sponsors are the UCR College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Undocumented Student Program, Center for Ideas and Society, Department of Ethnic Studies, Graduate School of Education, Chicano/a Student Programs, Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair, and Asian Pacific Student Programs.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Jennifer Nájera

Center for Ideas and Society
Tel: (951) 827-1556

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