For this week’s UndocuGrad spotlight, we are excited to feature Luz’s experience and advice.
Luz migrated to the US at the age of 14 years old and has navigated the higher educational system as an undocumented student without DACA. She obtained her B.S. in Management and Business Economics. More recently, Luz received her M.A. In Education with a pathway in Higher Education, Administration and Leadership.
What motivated you to apply to graduate school?
During my last year of undergraduate I saw my future as uncertain and not many options available. I felt overwhelmed and confused about my next step in life. With the help of my mentors I decided to pursue graduate school as I didn’t have a work authorization. I wanted to be prepared to when an opportunity to obtain a job came by. I pursued a degree in higher education because I want to give back to my community and empower undocumented students to achieve their goals. I want to become their support as my mentors were for me.
What was one of the biggest challenges you encountered while pursuing grad school as an undocumented student?
My biggest challenge was financial stability. I had to learn how to really advocate for myself and get out of my comfort zone to request funding for my studies. I learned to talk to administrators and recognize that I deserve to obtain an education. I had to find creative ways to work even if they were not related to my career interests. Unfortunately, there were terms that I did not receive enough financial aid for grad school and had to use all of our savings. This took a toll on my mental health and my family but it was worth it.
What are some pieces of advice that you would give to undocumented students thinking about applying to grad school?
Network. Find people that are truly willing to help you. It can be difficult to find people that will follow up with their promises but you have to try. Don’t relay on one person but look for your own support system. Find a mentor that is truly willing to work with you and don’t be scared to ask all the questions that you have! If they are truly willing to help, they will listen and help you in your journey.
Take care of your mental health. Your health is important and we need to learn when we need to stop and re-evaluate our actions that might be helping or hurting us. Find what works for you and keep on practicing your way of self-care. It’s okay to take time off and return. The important thing is to go at your own pace. You are you and you are amazing. Don’t compare yourself to others as they have different experiences than you.
Luz migrated to the US at the age of 14 years old. She obtained her B.S. Management and Business Economics from UC Merced and she then attended Fresno State were she received her M.A. In Education with a pathway in Higher Education, Administration and Leadership. Luz navigated higher education system as an undocumented student that didn’t qualify for DACA. Her community has inspired her to pursue a career in higher education and continue advocating for underrepresented students.
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