When Yatziry Galvan, a first-generation student born in Mexico, walked across the stage of Green Music Center’s Weill Hall during commencement on May 19, she received more than a B.S. in business from Sonoma State University. The 24-year-old DACA recipient also made Seawolf history by becoming Sonoma State’s first TheDream.US Scholarship graduate.
Galvan transferred to Sonoma State in the fall of 2017 after three years at Napa Valley College where she supported her family by working multiple jobs on the side. After two years at Sonoma State, she was able to graduate with honors from the School of Business.
“Getting to SSU and achieving my dream of getting to college was difficult because, like so many, I didn't have resources as an undocumented student,” said Galvan. “But walking across the stage, I got to see the pride in my parents' faces, and it was the most incredible thing because they got to see their sacrifices weren’t in vain.”
TheDream.US National Scholarship is a full scholarship for DREAMers graduating from high school or community college who have significant, unmet financial need. This year, TheDream.US awarded approximately 1200 applicants. Sonoma State is one of more than 75 colleges that have partnered with the TheDream.US. Other partner colleges include the University of Washington, Arizona State and Rutgers University. Five other California State University campuses also are partners including San Jose State, Cal State East Bay, San Francisco State, Long Beach State and Cal State San Bernardino.
According to Rosa Salamanca Moreira, a coordinator for SSU’s Dream Center, Galvan played a major role in the Dream Center’s development since its implementation in spring 2018. “I work with a lot of undocu-students, but she brings maturity and kindness into our space that I really appreciate,” said Moreira. “She’s brilliant and smart, and I appreciate how she carries herself humbly and helps others. It's an honor to be apart of her journey and see her open up her wings.”
In selecting students for the scholarships, an emphasis is placed on those who have demonstrated a commitment to community service and have shown an ability to overcome the barriers and challenges that DREAMers face day, according to TheDream.US.
As an intern during her second year on campus, Galvan contributed in many areas, including creating social gatherings and advocating for undocumented students around Sonoma County. “My internship at the Dream Center was incredible in helping me be a mentor with students entering school, and it was a great growing experience,” she said. “I got to have my own sense of belonging.”
Having graduated from Sonoma State, Galvan says she hopes to stay in Napa and work with other uncdocumented students who are in the same position she was in. “My advice to students is to not be afraid,” said Galvan. “It’s OK to not know what you want, but in order to make your dreams a reality, you have to ask questions and get involved on campus.”