By KENNEDY WILLIAMS, NEWS3 Reporter
MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — Western Illinois University recently awarded the Dreamers Scholarship to three students for the upcoming spring semester. The donor-funded scholarship provides a means of financial support for undocumented students attending the university.
The idea for the Dreamers Scholarship was introduced to WIU by political science professor Julia Albarracin-Green. After completing research, Albarracin-Green found that undocumented students do not have access to FAFSA. Therefore, they have to pay for school out of pocket.
“They were struggling to pay for school, and many of them have like three jobs, and on top of that they were sending money to their families,” Albarracin-Green said. “I was exposed to that reality and I thought that WIU could do something about it, but we didn’t have the funds available.”
After talking to some of the students, Albarracin-Green decided to launch the WIU Dreamers Scholarship fundraiser where the school set a goal of $20,000. What happened next, exceeded her expectations.
“Once we took off, I mean we really got the funds,” Albarracin-Green said. “We have more than $25,000.”
Now that the scholarship money has been awarded, Albarracin-Green explained what it feels like to be able to help “Dreamers.”
“Lifting a weight off the shoulders of the students that get the scholarship and seeing them progress and be successful in school, graduate in the future, I think that is going to be the most rewarding part.”
Despite the progress that’s been made through the scholarship, the work to embrace dreamers requires everyone’s support. According to Albarracin-Green, one way to do that is by staying informed on public policies, while using inclusive language is always a good idea.
“Nowadays we use the word illegal, there are better terms for immigrants who have no documents.”