Marquette Wire

First Dreamers Gala raises thousands for undocumented student scholarship

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Photo by Isioma Osademe /isioma.osademe@mu.edu

Photo by Isioma Osademe /isioma.osademe@mu.edu

Photo by Isioma Osademe /isioma.osademe@mu.edu

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There was a great sense of excitement in the Alumni Memorial Union ballrooms on Thursday as students, faculty, staff and Milwaukee community members gathered to eventually raise more than $20,000 for establishing an undocumented student scholarship at Marquette.

Over 170 people attended the Dreamers Gala for the Ignacio Ellacuria S.J. Dreamers Scholarship. Students from Youth Empowered in the Struggle created and organized the event with assistance from staff in the Center for Intercultural Engagement.

The room was abuzz with people trying to support future Marquette students. The attendees were friendly with each other, constantly getting up and chatting with people from other tables or going into the lobby to look at the silent auction items.

Provost Dan Myers also attended the gala and praised students for their work in creating the scholarship.

“I’m so impressed with the work the students did,” Myers said. “This is a great moment for Marquette to say loudly what its values are, and I just see all good for this event in the future.”

Marquette requires a $50,000 endowment to establish a scholarship fund. The final total fundraised at the event has not been announced yet.

“This is an issue that people care out and it was going to be successful whether we raised $10 or $1,000,” said Miguel Sanchez, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and president of YES. “It was going to be successful because we managed to build a community and to get everyone together.”

Sanchez said YES will continue to fundraise by making the gala an annual event and organizing additional opportunities to raise money for the scholarship throughout the year.

The event included performances from acts including La Rondalla Voces y Guitarras, Rebelion Ixchel, Esmeralda Nungaray and KJ Prodigy. Attendees were especially captivated by Rebelion Ixchel. At one moment during its performance, the lead vocalist sung a cappella and the crowd began clapping along with the beat.

Nungaray, a sophomore in the College of Communication, was a co-chair and emcee for the gala. She said she is proud that the gala was a student-led effort and that the planning team was able to reach out to groups at Marquette.

“I’m really excited that the Milwaukee community came up and that neighbors, peers and other people have faith in us and want us to make a difference,” she said.

There were also speeches that shared the experiences of undocumented students in higher education. Karla Navarro-Vega, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, gave a student testimonial, and Maricela Aguilar, a 2012 Marquette graduate, gave the keynote speech.

Aguilar described her time at Marquette and her family’s constant support, which helped her become successful in school. Aguilar received an Urban Scholars Award scholarship, which helped her attend Marquette. She recognized how grateful she was to attend Marquette when not all undocumented students will experience the same opportunity.

“After looking at statistics and looking at the numbers, I have no idea how I did made it,” Aguilar said about finishing Marquette. “It’s statistically impossible for undocumented students to make it out of higher education, and somehow I did it.”

Attendees purchased tickets for individual plates or full tables at the event. Marquette-affiliated organizations and Milwaukee community groups sponsored tables and made individual donations. Groups like the United Community Center, the Marquette Office of the Provost, Voces de la Frontera, Marquette University High School and the Marquette Jesuit Community were sponsors.

There was also a silent auction of donated artwork to help raise money for the scholarship. Lupe Serna, a freshman in the College of Education, created paintings for the silent auction. She said she attended the gala because she believes education is the key to a successful future for undocumented students.

“That’s one of the things that I want to do in the future,” Serna said. “I want to give an education to immigrant populations, specifically the Hispanic population, and I feel like this event would give high school students that would want to receive a higher education an opportunity to get closer to their dreams.”

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