Later this week, on Friday, September 25, the campus group Leaders Educating for the Advancement of Dreamers (LEAD) will be hosting the 2nd Annual LEAD Conference: “Dreaming Without Boundaries.” The Dreaming Without Boundaries Conference aims to educate and promote awareness about “Dream” students, undocumented immigrants who attend college, usually as the first person in their families to do so.
According to Elizabeth Alaniz, the advisor overseeing LEAD, the passion of this conference committee is impeccable. They have been meeting and planning for this conference for months: every Friday morning from 7-7:50 a.m. during the spring semester, since there was no other time the group could meet.
Resources for Dreamers
The conference theme title is “One Step Closer to Our Dream.” One interpretation of this theme acknowledges those dream students who are striving for higher education that are one step closer to graduating college.
LEAD President Laura Oros explains: “A lot of (Dream) students don’t know or are not aware that there are a lot of resources available to them.”
Many of these resources will be accessible at the conference and include information on admissions, wellness and health, financial aid, scholarships, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process, life after DACA, and more.
Alaniz personally feels that “having a group of professionals/students together learning and having discussions about dream students is (one) step closer to having a Dream Resource Center on campus.”
Education for Faculty
This conference is not only an opportunity for Dream students to connect and learn with each other, but also a chance for faculty to learn how to support and build relationships with those students.
Oros explained: “You’re not just helping students on campus, but you’re also educating counselors.” She elaborated on how many elementary and high school teachers from the surrounding community will be able to take what they learn from the conference and share that information with younger Dream students and their families.
A lot of faculty on campuses want to support Dream Students, but they may not know how. Workshops like “A Professor’s Journey” and “How to Support Undocumented Students” provide opportunities to better understand what the needs of Dream students are and how to address them.
Education for Allies
When asked about some ways people can support Dream students, Oros specified: “Sometimes you just need somebody to listen to you… Sometimes (Dreamers) think it’s better to quit everything, and sometimes you need that support to go forward.”
The first step in supporting any community is educating yourself and listening to what they have to say.
A lot of people only know and believe what they hear from television or mass media. Workshops like “Common Myths and Current Issues” and the student panel are, according to Oros, “a really good opportunity to see what’s on the other side.” Dispelling misconceptions and hearing people talk about their personal experiences can be very powerful, humanizing the topic and the people involved.
Many of the workshops are offered more than once throughout the day to meet the availability of those in attendance. A full conference agenda can be found here.
Anyone who is interested in learning how to better support Dream students is encouraged to get more involved and attend LEAD conferences in the future.
CSU, Chico DREAM Scholarship
If you would like to make a donation for the CSU, Chico Dream Scholarship, visit the online giving page at www.csuchico.edu/makeagift. In the gift designation section, donors can indicate the Dream Scholarship, #17020.
For further information, please contact LEAD at LEADChicoState@gmail.com.