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Introducing Ten Talented DREAM Fellows!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
New York City  (Thursday, March 8, 2012)

Introducing Ten Talented DREAM Fellows!

New York Immigration Coalition, Fund for Public Advocacy, Korean American Community Foundation, and Public Advocate Launch DREAM Fellowship Program for Undocumented Student Leaders

Today, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), along with its partners, the Fund for Public Advocacy, the Korean American Community Foundation (KACF), and the Office of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio proudly introduced several talented New York City students who have received the DREAM Fellowship, a semester- long internship program that provides undocumented student leaders with scholarships to continue their undergraduate education. The fellowship also places the students in a leadership development program run by the NYIC and in internships within NYIC’s diverse member organizations that advocate for immigrant youth and families.

Ten students were picked out of a highly competitive applicant pool of more than 100 applications—an indication of the dire need for tuition assistance for New York’s undocumented student population. The fellowship was open to CUNY students and applicants were selected based on criteria including their previously demonstrated commitment to community engagement. The ten DREAM Fellows represent a diverse group of Korean, Mexican, Peruvian, Dominican, Pakistani, Chinese, Jamaican, and Ecuadorian descent.


[Photo Above] Bottom (left to right) Kyung Yoon, KAFC; Chung-Wha Hong, NYIC; Nataly Lopez, Emily Park
Top (Right to left) Max Ahmed, Jeffrey Louie, Reshma Saujani, Fund for Public Advocacy; Kymare Hutchinson, Yelky Ramos, Yohan Garcia, Eduardo Resendiz

“We are so grateful to the Fund for Public Advocacy and the Korean American Community Foundation for their leadership and commitment to making the fellowship program possible--a program that invests in young people now, while we wait for action at both the state and federal levels to address the barriers to education that they face," said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "And we're thrilled that there’s real momentum at the state level to expand tuition assistance to all students, regardless of status, and the NYIC will be bringing more than 1,000 people to Albany next week for our annual advocacy day to make it happen!"


[Photo Above] Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of NYIC introducers DREAM Fellows

The Fund for Public Advocacy partnered with the Coalition on fundraising efforts since August 2011, and raised the funding to cover the tuition costs for the ten students.

Reshma Saujani, executive director of the Fund for Public Advocacy, said, "The Dream Fellowship is one of the cornerstone projects of the Fund for Public Advocacy this year. I cannot say how proud we are to be able to help ten students who are exemplars of self-determination. Although they face extreme adversity in their mission to attain a higher education, they study hard and work harder to ensure that their dreams become realities. This fellowship program extends ten exceptional students the opportunity to learn about community organizing, as well as a one-semester scholarship. We are honored to help them on their journey."

[Photo Above] Reshma Saujani, Fund for Public Advocacy

The Korean American Community Foundation provided major funding for the leadership development component of the program.

Kyung Yoon, executive director of KACF, said, “The Korean American Community Foundation (KACF) is delighted to be a co-funder of the DREAM Fellowship. Helping individuals, families and communities in one of the main gateways to immigration to the U.S is core to KACF's mission, and we are pleased to support programs like the DREAM Fellowship that provide opportunities for immigrant youth to pursue an education, regardless of immigration status. We recognize that education is key to individuals not only finding success in their own lives but in making communities stronger. And our hope and vision is that through the Fellowship, students who have limited access to opportunities achieve their educational goals, set their own courses in life and become empowered and contributing community members.”

[Photo Above] Kyung Yoong, Executive Director of Korean American Community Foundation speaks

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was a key supporter of the DREAM Fellowship from its conception, playing a significant role in fundraising efforts.

“In America we teach young people that if you work hard and stay in school you will succeed, and yet this turns out to be a cruel hoax for thousands of students who were brought to America at a young age and are undocumented immigrants,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “By providing these outstanding students academic scholarships, we are helping to give them an opportunity to step out of the shadows and fight for their dreams. It is time our state and our country stop penalizing these young people, and pass New York’s DREAM legislation and the federal DREAM Act.”


[Photo Above] Bill de Blasio, NYC Public Advocate expresses his support for the DREAM Fellowship program

Six of the ten DREAM Fellows introduced themselves and shared inspiring stories of resilience in the face of educational barriers, highlighting their eagerness to contribute their talents to New York and to the country.

Nataly Lopez, a student at Baruch College, said, “It is my dream to finally have my bachelor’s degree and be done with the undergraduate education. I also want to move on to receive my Master’s and Ph.D. Prior to being a Dream Fellow, I was taking one or two classes per semester. If lucky, I was able to be a full-time student. I don’t know where my path will lead after this semester. But I am thankful for the experience thus far. With this fellowship, I am interning at Cabrini Immigrant Services, where I’ve been welcomed with open arms. Seeing and being part of a community united by one dream is very inspiring.”


[Photo Above] Nataly Lopez, DREAM Fellow speaks

Kymare Hutchinson, a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said, “My education is very important to me because there is so much I want to see change in this world and I believe that through education I can be a world changer. Being a recipient of the Dream Fellow Scholarship has been very encouraging for me, it has been a symbol of hope.”


[Photo Above] Kymare Hutchinson, DREAM fellow speaks

Emily Park, a student at Queens College, said, “As an undocumented student, my dreams have been difficult to achieve because I am ineligible to get financial aid or a loan. The DREAM Fellowship gave me a hope that there are people who want to invest in my education. At my internship site at MinKwon Center for Community Action, I am working on a campaign for NYS DREAM legislation and organizing youth. Through this internship, I have been learning the importance of educating our community about their rights and what they can do to improve our community. This experience has been invaluable.”

[Photo Above] Emily Park, DREAM Fellow speaks

Yelky Ramos, a senior at Baruch College, said, “For me, The DREAM Fellowship has helped the economic burden of affording a college education. Most importantly, through the internship component of this fellowship, I have been able to work on creating a scholarships guide for undocumented students. Through the leadership development trainings, I have become more educated about the history of immigration in the United States and the immigrant rights movement. Programs such as the DREAM fellowship must continue to be offered to students in the future.”

[Photo Above] Yelky Ramos, DREAM Fellow speaks

Eduardo Resendiz, a student at Lehman College, said, “As an undocumented student, I have encountered many challenges, especially related to social acceptance, insecurity and financial instability, that constantly put at risk my chances of finishing my education, and accomplishing my long-term goals. However, thanks to the emotional and financial help of organizations like the New York Immigration Coalition, and the support of DREAM Fellowship program, I am able to stay encouraged to overcome all of the adversities that we face in our lives.”

[Photo Above] Eduardo Resendiz, DREAM Fellow speaks

Yohan Garcia, a student at Hunter College, said, “As part of the DREAM Fellowship, I was assigned to an internship at one of NYIC’s member organizations, La Fuente. At La Fuente, I have been given many opportunities to work for the community and educate people about the DREAM Act. I will continue with the pursuit of my dreams; I am going to be a Human Rights Lawyer, a Congressman, and United States Senator. I am a dreamer. Perhaps I don’t have everything I wish I have right now, but I have hope, courage, and motivation to follow my dreams.”

[Photo Above] Yohan Garcia, DREAM Fellow speaks

The DREAM Fellowship Program was also supported by contributions by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, New York UAW Region 9A CAP Council, and Communication Workers of America District One PAC.

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