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‘Keeping the Dream Alive’ conference will focus on collaborations that support undocumented students

The Keeping the Dream Alive conference features more than 200 participants from across the nation who will share strategies for helping undocumented students attain personal and professional goals.

Undocumented students and their supporters – including lawyers, counselors and educators – will gather virtually Thursday and Friday, Nov. 18-19, for Sacramento State’s annual “Keeping the Dream Alive” conference.

More than 200 participants from across the nation will share strategies for helping undocumented students achieve their personal and professional goals. In addition, half of all registration fees will go to a Sac State emergency fund that helps undocumented students with unexpected financial challenges.

The theme of the sixth annual conference is “Fostering Joint Action Across People, Spaces, and Systems,” with an emphasis on collaborations between people and institutions that serve students affected by their undocumented status, said Viridiana Diaz, Sac State’s associate vice president for Strategic Student Support Programs.

“This year’s theme speaks to the importance of sharing knowledge and expertise in order to be more efficient in serving undocumented students,” Diaz said. “This work cannot be done in silos, because in most cases we do not have the luxury of time to pilot efforts. Our students need us now, and their needs are real and must be addressed immediately. It’s about working smarter, not harder.”

The conference is “truly a special event,” said Erik Ramirez, program coordinator for the University’s Dreamer Resource Center, which is hosting the gathering. “There are few spaces like this, where folks who support undocumented and immigrant students come together to share insights and knowledge, be vulnerable, and reach a higher sense of understanding and motivation to continue our critical efforts.”

Among the key speakers at the conference is Maria Elizabeth Barrera, whose testimony in 2000 before the California State Senate helped pass Assembly Bill 540, which grants undocumented students access to in-state tuition rates and other educational benefits. Barrera, who was 17 years old and undocumented at the time she addressed lawmakers, went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Religious Studies from UC Davis. Afterward, she worked for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, where she created the California Dream Network for undocumented college students.

Conference topics will include:

  • Experiences and needs of undocumented students in higher education
  • Techniques for faculty members to help undocumented students succeed
  • Best practices for building collaboration among programs and institutions that support undocumented and immigrant students
  • How educators and others can help influence changes in immigration policy
  • Practices for supporting undocumented Asian and Pacific Islander students

Conference participants represent a wide variety of individuals, advocacy groups, and college and university programs across the country.

“There is amazing work happening across people, spaces and systems that needs to be shared to ensure others aren’t having to reinvent the wheel,” Diaz said. “A lot of the work can be replicated or scaled up in other spaces and this conference allows for the sharing to occur.”

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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