Student ambassador helps undocumented students

By Stephanie Sical

Katya Alvarado is the scholar ambassador of the DRC, and her function as an ambassador of the DRC is an advocate for undocumented students on campus.
The Dream Resource Center provides assistance to AB-540 / SB 68 petitions, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals renewals, California Dream Act, Extended Opportunities Programs & Services, scholarships, referrals to counseling and other supportive services and resources available to students on and off campus.
“We all mostly do the same work. I help undocumented students navigate through the process of higher education. For example, whether it be applying for the AB-540 form, which grants them access to paying in state tuition as opposed to out of state tuition.
“This is usually often for residency change. I am also helping students seek financial assistance. For example I can help a student apply for scholarships or look for scholarships that they qualify for. Additionally, I help them apply to the Dream Act application as well as resolve any issues with their application or financial aid if they have any” Katya said.
She also aids students with information on the College Promise grant fee waiver which is a waiver that covers classes/tuition for the year.
She also runs the social media account where she posts not only resources for undocumented students, but their families as well.
This is where she promotes most of their events or events that are happening within the campus or alongside other DRC centers on other campuses.
Additionally, she is currently in charge of the ConexED for the DRC another way for students to allocate their services.
She’s encountered students everyday with different backgrounds and different stories about their status, their journey, goals and aspirations. She wraps it up by sharing a job anecdote: “It brings me so much joy that I’m able to help them through their journey because I have experienced navigating higher education as an undocumented student. Therefore, there are times I can relate to these students. “
She said it’s a rewarding feeling helping such an underrepresented community of students succeed, and that it’s also great knowing that she’s making change, while empowering others through her work. She shared a memorable story in which she helped inspire another student with similar background as her.
“I had a student who I encountered on my first few weeks of working at the DRC and they’ve been seeking our services since. We’ve kept in contact and they messaged me one day with a question they had and then they told me that it was very inspiring to see how much I’ve achieved and accomplished in the little time I’ve been at the DRC or since they’ve met me.
“This resonated with me because I then realized that there are people who look up to me and who look up to the work I’m doing. They see me as an example of someone who can achieve anything they set themselves to regardless of one’s immigration status and I think that’s the best part about my job,” Katya said.
The mission of ELAC’s Dream Resource Center is to empower undocumented and LGBTQ students to cultivate their personal, social and academic growth by building leadership skills, promoting social justice, and advocating for access and equity within higher education.
The Dream Resource Center is in full function and serving students virtually. Despite COVID-19, they have been able keep their students informed and assist in any way shape or form via their Instagram page @elacdreamresourcecenter. Or via phone: (213) 394-2897.

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