By CAROLINA VALDIVIA
Fanny was born in Mexico City and came to the U.S. in 2002 when she was 13 years old. Along with her mother and sister, they reunited with their father who had come to Illinois almost three years earlier. She has lived mostly in the northwest suburbs of Illinois since her arrival. Fanny graduated from Dominican University (River Forest, IL) in 2011 and received a B.A. with honors in Sociology and two minors: Women and Gender Studies and Spanish Studies. In June of 2013, she graduated from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy with a Masters in Public Policy (MPP). She would love to continue supporting the immigrant community as much as possible. Fanny’s career goal is to utilize her community organizing, research, and analytical skills to develop and implement policies and programs that advance the academic, professional, and economic development of underprivileged and underserved immigrant women, youth, low-income families, and the LGBTQ community.
Why did you decide to go to graduate school? I decided to go to graduate school for two reasons. First, I had studied Sociology and I knew that I needed more training to narrow my career goals and find a specific concentration in my field. So, I decided to enroll in the school of public policy to obtain the skills that I needed to influence immigration policy more effectively. Second, I was still undocumented and had no options to continue with my career. There was no DACA or work authorization available, so I couldn’t get a job that would provide me with the experience I needed to build a career in public policy. I realized that continuing school would help me acquire more skills and experience while I was waiting to adjust my immigration status.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give other undocumented students considering/applying to graduate school? One piece of advice I often give to other undocumented students considering/applying to graduate school is to be proactive, honest, and confident when reaching out to school administrators. I recommend that you schedule a meeting with the admissions director (or any other senior administrator) of the program you are applying to and tell him/her about your experience being an undocumented student, how your undocumented status prevents you from continuing with your education, how their program is connected to your career goals and how you will make a strong contribution to their program. These administrators admire students that are determined and passionate. Make a good impression and help them understand your personal situation. They will remember you! In my experience, seeking resources, asking lots of questions, and building a strong support network were all key steps I had to take in order to survive the application process because there was limited information regarding how undocumented students were supposed to navigate graduate school..