Everyone has a dream: Sonoma State and SRJC unite to urge undocumented students to reach for theirs

March 4, 2024
Three women

(l-r) Khou Yang-Vigil, SSU Director of Equity & Access Programs, Angélica Garcia, President of SRJC; Sarah Ellison, SSU Associate Vice President of Student Affairs

"We need these students to know they are not a secret," said Angélica Garcia, President/Superintendent of Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC), at the recent Reach for Your Dreams Conference in the Sonoma State Student Center on February 23. "We are here to celebrate you, honor you, and work with you." 

With about 200 students, counselors/chaperones, and SSU campus partners in attendance, the SSU DREAM Center hosted the conference in collaboration with the SRJC Undocu Immigrant Dream Center. 

DREAM Center Coordinator Alma Sanchez-Carreno said the partnership aimed to unite the community in support of undocumented high school and college students accessing higher education. 

"I am excited to plant the seed that college is an option for all students, regardless of their immigration status. I love seeing the students enjoying themselves on the campus, which allows them to envision themselves here in the future," Sanchez-Carreno said. 

SSU Director of Equity & Access Programs Khou Yang-Vigil, who oversees four other programs on campus, said the conference was one of the most significant collaborations between the SSU and the SRJC, and she was committed to creating equitable solutions with the event. 

"Whether you are an undocumented student or not, everyone has a dream. Everyone has a goal. So, regardless of status, we should all have the same opportunity to grow, be nurtured, and be our best selves. So, let us provide that opportunity for everyone; this is our future out there," Yang-Vigil said. 


The keynote speakers at the conference were SSU President Mike Lee, SRJC President Angélica Garcia, and Denia Candela, the lead statistician for the Office of Equity in Marin, whose work focuses on strategically advancing racial equity with government systems.  

After an SSU campus tour, the students attended various workshops focused on specialized education programs with SRJC, financial aid, paid volunteer opportunities, Knowing Your Rights, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, AB540-Ca Nonresident Tuition Exemption, SSU admission support, as well as an immersive Art Therapy experience. 

"The students here today are trailblazing for those who will come after them. They are a part of the generation trying to make sense within the new laws, services, and programs," said Garcia. 

The conference was created as a hybrid event with two tracks - one for students and one for school counselors. The track for chaperones/counselors introduced UndocuScholars LLC who provided professional development training in support of undocumented students and the college application process.

In the afternoon, about 150 SSU and SRJC faculty and staff opted to attend a separate training seminar – also led by UndocuScholars – to learn how to create a welcoming, supportive and inclusive campus environment for undocumented students.

"Our communities are richer and more humane because of what we learn from one another," said Garcia. "What is beautiful about this community is that it is an uplifting one."

Read more about Sonoma State’s DREAM Center’s critical resources along with other local organizations supporting the “undocu-DACA” student community” in this Press Democrat article.

 - Krista Sherer, SSU Strategic Communications 


Media Contact

Janet Durkin