Twelve deserving immigrant students, several of them undocumented, were awarded college scholarships last Thursday by the New York State Youth Leadership Council. It was the third year in a row the council has recognized deserving students.
"We do this because we believe and encourage the potential and dreams of immigrant youth," the council said in a statement. The young people of the NYSYLC take their future, and that of thousands of undocumented immigrant youth, very seriously.
Their most immediate goal is to have Congress pass the DREAM Act - legislation that would give undocumented youth brought to the U.S. as children who have graduated from high school and completed two years of college or military service a path to citizenship. Passing the DREAM Act as stand-alone legislation makes a lot of sense, especially since it is unlikely comprehensive immigration reform is happening in the foreseeable future. Its passage would benefit nearly 1.5 million undocumented immigrant youths.
The council also seeks better access to higher education for immigrants and their children, regardless of status.
"The money is a tremendous help," said Gwendolyn Sabroso, 18. "I was awarded $2,000, and the money is sent directly to the university," she said. Sabroso, born in Peru, was brought to the U.S. by her parents 11 years ago. She graduated this year from high school in Floral Park, L.I., with an impressive 4.0 grade point average. "The scholarships - that range from $500 to $2,000 - are designed to help students who do not qualify for other financial aid," said Ecuadoran-born Daniela Alulema, 24, who got her business degree three years ago and now handles press relations for the council.
Amazingly, 75% of the money awarded is raised by the council through fund-raising events and voluntary contributions.link