Hope is defined as a “state which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life.”
Here at Citrus College, H.O.P.E. (Helping find Opportunities in the Pursuit of Education) seeks to educate people on what being an AB 540 student, commonly known as DREAMers, after the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors). DREAMers are undocumented students who H.O.P.E. hopes to educate on how the DREAM Act affects them.
Imagine yourself as an AB 540 student. You want to drive at the age of sixteen, but can’t because you cannot get a license. Or imagine having recently graduated high school with honors. Applying to college doesn’t even cross your mind because of you do not have a social security number. What do you do next?
Students of this stature are around us daily, dealing with scrutiny and living limited lives.
The core idea of H.O.P.E. is to create a safe environment of both undocumented and documented students to fight for others affected by their legal status. Members also strive to raise awareness to those who are eager to learn about programs and initiatives such as the Dream Act and Deferred Action, as well as scholarships, job opportunities, and outreach programs.
H.O.P.E. and its members are heavily involved in the community. They spread awareness through outreach programs to local high schools such as Azusa and Gladstone High School. Members encourage other undocumented students to be open and unafraid of labels that have been placed on them. The objectives of the outreach programs are to inspire young students to go to college and eventually have successful lives. The members of H.O.P.E. seek to shed light on the shadows, and infuse hope into those hiding.
H.O.P.E. president Larissa Angulo has big plans for the club this year, with talks of creating an on-campus resource center for Citrus College AB 540 students.
The resource center would give an outlet for AB 540 students to come for help with DREAM Act or Deferred Action applications. Another issue plaguing AB 540 students is money. To complete a Deferred Action application costs a student $465. Now, the question for these students comes down to whether or not to register for classes, or apply for the chance to live without the fear of deportation.
One product of H.O.P.E. is a recently graduated student named Adriana. She was active in Phi Pheta Kappa and the Honors Society, taking an average of 21 units each term for the year she attended Citrus College.
As a result of her legal status, scholarship opportunities were scarce, but with the support of H.O.P.E. and the hope she kept throughout the countless letdowns, she was awarded the Hurtado Scholarship from Santa Clara University.
This full-ride (approximately $150,000 over three years) scholarship, led by Jesuit priests, was intended for low-income, undocumented students that wanted to further their education without being frowned upon by schools.
Adriana is now at her dream school attaining an education that would not have been made possible without support and awareness from organizations like H.O.P.E.
The “AB 540 Friendly” sign that the club had last year at the club rush drew her to the organization. The sign was in full force at this year’s event as well.
Angulo wanted to assure studnets that H.O.P.E. is more than a club.
“It’s a family that shares their stories and tries to help each other the best we can,” Angulo said. “Adriana inspired us to not give up, and she herself gave us hope.”