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Chico State

The Power of a Dream

Students embrace at a rally held on campus.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Students embrace as the campus community gathers in solidarity and unity to show support for a clean Dream Act and the University’s undocumented community in September 2017. (Jason Halley/University Photographer)

President Gayle Hutchinson

Our country was primarily built by immigrants. With the exception of indigenous peoples, most Americans have ancestors who made their way to this nation from distant lands. My family is no exception.

My grandfather was a young boy when his parents moved their six children from the Netherlands to New England. Sponsored by a farmer in Massachusetts, my grandfather, his parents, and siblings repaid the farmer by working on his farm for seven years, a common practice in the United States at the turn of the 20th century.

My grandfather’s family was able to gain citizenship, and once their debt was paid in full, my grandfather set out on his own as a teenager armed with an eighth-grade education. He became a mechanic and served in World War I. He and my grandmother eventually settled down and had a family. Together, they instilled in my mom and her siblings a strong work ethic and aspirations for a better life—their own American Dream.

For many, the path to citizenship is more difficult today. I encourage you to read this remarkable story, in which you will meet four Chico State students who arrived in the United States as children and are still pushing for legal status. Amid a heated national discussion on immigration and an uncertain future, these courageous, undocumented students share their stories, hopes, and frustrations while they pursue degrees to position themselves to build better lives and make an impact on the world.

As the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program hangs in question, they explain the potential for loss of protected status, loss of opportunity, and a blocked pathway to the life they have known, dreamed of, and worked hard to create. They face stereotypes and fear, and even hatred and discrimination.

And yet, they and countless other Dreamers are not swayed in their determination to achieve their goals of earning degrees, obtaining legal citizenship, and helping others. Like my hard-working grandfather, Dreamers toil long and hard for a better life. The students you read about here are prime examples of that. They understand the transformational power of education, and their stories serve us every day as a valuable reminder of why we do what we do.




—Gayle Hutchinson, President