2015 Program: Becas Recipients 2015-16
In 2015, we received over 140 applications to the Becas Scholarship Program. We served approximately 160 students at a series of workshops throughout New York City to aid students in preparing their applications. We initially had sufficient funding for thirteen students, but due to additional donations, we were able to extend scholarships to twenty-two students in total.
Luz Aguirre is currently an undergraduate at LaGuardia Community College majoring in Philosophy. Aguirre was born in Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico of Poblano and Michoacan parentage and was transplanted to New York at the age of 11. Aguirre is interested in topics pertaining to culture and arts, immigrant and human rights, identity, race, gender, environmental and ethical issues. Aguirre has collaborated with various organizations and worked seven years at Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, an arts and culture organization. In 2013, she was competitively selected to participate in CORO New York, a nine-month, multi-sector cohort exploring civic leadership and New York City public policy. In 2015, she was selected as one of thirty students from across the country to attend Vassar Exploring Transfer program, a summer program that draws students from populations underrepresented in higher education. Aguirre is honored to be a recipient of the 2015 CUNY Becas.
Guadalupe Ambrosio was born in Mexico City and raised in the Bronx. After having a difficult time with the educational system and dropping out of school, she found commonality in the youth of New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC) and was inspired to come out as Undocumented .She now volunteers as a core member with the NYSYLC and is a program director of Arts and Expression, a program where members use their creative skills to express and explore advocacy through the arts. Guadalupe is also starting an educator's initiative at the NYSYLC in an effort to support other undocumented youth who are interested in becoming educators, like herself. Her end goal is to be able to have her own community cultural center. This center would serve as a space where people learn and continue to organize for a better Mexico and provide support for Mexican youth." I wish more spaces existed that were less about assimilating to American culture and values and more about reinforcing our heritage and welcoming the radical history of Mexican leaders". She has been a strong advocate for the New York Dream Act for the past four years and hopes to continue to help mold and build future leaders through political education. "I will be starting my freshmen year of college thanks to the support of my community". Guadalupe will be using this amazing opportunity to share her story through a video series about her process of going back to school after graduating high school five years ago. Her goal with this project is to encourage the youth that are so often left out of many academic spaces based on their choices or circumstances in their high school career. "I am not your typical dreamer that always did so well in school I was told to drop out by my counselor and I did. Yet I still advocate for our right to education. We have also been criminalized as immigrant youth that do not fit the model minority. I encourage you to challenge that dreamer narrative and reclaim that our education matters too. "It is also a way to speak up about supporting each of us and not wait for the government or 'pro' immigrant non- for profits to create change for us". Guadalupe is excited and very anxious of what this year has in store for her and looks forward to sharing her story to help many others like her. It is a beautiful cycle of support.
Jesus Barrios was born in Mexico, raised is Southern CA, and now based is NYC. He is an organizer, public health advocate, and committed to the struggle for social justice. Finally, he is currently a Master of Public Health candidate at the CUNY School of Public Health, Hunter College where his research focus is on U.S. immigration detention and queer public health.
My name is Lorena Cariño. I was born and half raised in Mexico City and the other half in the Bronx. I am a rising senior at Queens College with a double major in Political Science and Latin American and Latino Studies and a minor in Business and Liberal Arts. After realizing that learning a new language was not the only difficulty I would face in this country, but my immigration status too, I joined the Queens College Dream Team. I am the current president of the QC Dream Team and secretary of La Tertulia Cultural Club. Also, after interning at the New York State Youth Leadership Council for two summers since 2013, I became an active member. Assisting my community with their needs is one of my passions that I hope to continue fulfilling. I enjoy organizing within my campus community to raise awareness about immigration issues. In the future, I wish to make this passion into my career. I want to create my own non-profit to continue helping immigrant families and students with better resources.
Jazmin Cruz is currently an undergraduate student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She
is double majoring in Political Science and Latino/a Studies with a minor in economics. Jazmin
has been advocating for the New York State DREAM Act, and has been involved in the push for
dignity and respect of all people. Jazmin is part of the Dreamers Campaign at Make The Road New York and currently Vice-President of the John Jay Youth Justice Club in which she educates students on the issues raised by the various systems that impact youth within our communities, and assists youth at John Jay through volunteer efforts and other engaging opportunities to advocate for system reform efforts on both a state and national level. She wants to keep giving back to her community that saw her grow and through these efforts she has been a core member of the John Jay DREAMers. Her biggest role model is her father, and he has been the foundation and the ultimate supporter for her college career. She believes in the strong impact of a college education and is helping the recent high school graduates in her old high school transition from high school into college as the SummerBridge Coach.
" Once an Aspirante, Always an Aspirante" – Dr. Antonia Pandoja
An Aspirante is someone that aspires to become someone to make a change not just personal, but also in their community. My name is Zuleima Dominguez. I am 21 years old. I'm an undergraduate at Borough of Manhattan Community College. My current major is Liberal Arts, but I'm planning on majoring in Political Science with a minor in Gender Studies at Hunter College. I came from Mexico when I was 7 years old, oblivious to the decision my parents had made. My family and I immigrated to the United States in search of the "American Dream" as any other immigrant family. To me, it has always been clear that I am undocumented, but it wasn't until my four years of high school that being undocumented and lesbian was the toughest things to be that I kept as a secret of fear of being rejected. It wasn't until my senior year that I stopped being afraid. I never thought that I would be where I am today. I also consider myself a feminist because I believe that women need to be equal participants in our society, workplace, home, and in our government.
I'm currently working at a homeless shelter. I also volunteer at Make the Road New York (MRNY), a non-profit organization that fights for the Latino Community and for the working class.
I am honored to be part of CUNY Becas 2015. Not only do I get to meet new student like myself whom I have a lot in common with, but it also will motivate me to keep working hard to achieve my goals. One of them is to be a voice for the Mexican Community!
Gloria Farciert is currently an undergraduate student at Brooklyn College where she is pursuing a major in Childhood Education. She came to the United States at the age of seven years old from a small town in Puebla, Mexico. Attending a school where she did not know the language and her experience arriving to the country prompted her to major in Bilingual Education. Gloria hopes to ultimately become a college advisor to advise, provide resources and support Mexican and Mexican American students pursuing higher education. Gloria helped found the first Mexican club on campus and serves as Treasurer of the club. Her goals include continuing to give back to her community by advocating for the DREAM Act and interning at a non-profit organization in Sunset Park.
I came to the USA with the dream of using my voice as a guide to make this world a better place. I am an artist, a musician, an educator. I believe Arts are for everyone and should be part of everybody's life."
I was born in Mexico City, my hometown. I came to New York to expand my opportunities and here I found a new home full of amazing, diverse and creative people who inspire me every single day. I realized that through music and arts we can make a stronger and more sensible world. The Hispanic community living in New York is tremendously talented; we have people from all ages whose talents are amazing and most of the time are not able to develop them. I finished my BFA program at The City College of New York and I am currently in the last year of the Masters Program in Performing Arts (Music) at Queens College CUNY with the hope of growing as an artist and educator. We have a great responsibility to encourage the people in our society to be better human beings, to make our Hispanic community stronger and to represent our country as professionals. My commitment is to myself as an artist, to the Hispanic community as an educator, to my hometown and to this country as a second home.
"Una sociedad sin Arte está condenada al fracaso"
Adriana is an undergraduate at Queensborough Community College, majoring in Health Related Sciences/Nursing. Adriana was born in Mexico City. At the age of 11 she moved to Brooklyn, New York. She has a passionate heart for the sciences and her biggest dream is to become a doctor. In 2013, she started to volunteer at CUNY Citizenship Now! In 2014, she received for the first time the scholarship of CUNY Becas. The scholarship helped her stay in school as a full time student. Also, it gave her the opportunity to join the track and field team at her college, and become the 2015 champions of junior colleges. Her new experience made her more susceptible to achieve and explore new areas. Getting the scholarship for a second time gives her the opportunity to continue in the track and field team and most importantly to continue with her dreams.
My name is David García, born in Tulcingo del Valle, Puebla, Mexico. My mother brought me to the United States at the age of four with my older sister. I graduated from BMCC with the help of CUNY Becas in 2013. I am currently attending Baruch College. Having received the Beca in 2015 for the second time, I will be able to graduate next June as a Philosophy and Spanish undergrad. My goal is to continue with my education upon graduating by pursuing a Masters or PhD in Mesoamerican Studies, specializing in globalization and development, and political economy, since I have an interest in Marxian economics – its potential to transform the processes of global flows of people, commodities and capital more democratically. Apart from being a full-time student and working, I am part of a Mexican baseball league. Playing baseball at different levels has taught me disciplined, professionalism and passion at what one does. It also helped me stay away from hanging out with the wrong crowd growing up in the South Bronx. Currently, I am doing my internship at HANDS, as a Spanish tutor. Not only I tutor Spanish but also learn mixteco and life lessons from my students.
My name is Brenda Hernandez and I am currently a Paralegal Studies major at La Guardia Community College. I was born in Mexico City and raised in Queens, New York. I came the United States at the age of two with parents who did not have any knowledge of the English language. Growing up, I struggled with basic homework tasks; I did not have an older sibling to help me. That helped me realize that there are many other kids that just like me struggle with their homework. I volunteered as a tutor at my church, Our Lady of Sorrow, afterschool helping kids from 1st grade to 5th complete their homework. I was always happy to help out, because I was in their shoes once and was always so thankful when others helped me.
My parents have always supported me and have always taught me that education is the key to success. That is why I plan to transfer to John Jay College of Criminal Justice and major in Political Science. Afterwards, I plan to go to Law School and pass the BAR Exam. My goal is to become a lawyer and provide legal resources and support to not only Mexicans, but also all Hispanics in need. I want to be a role model for the future Mexican-American generation. It is an honor to be part of the CUNY Becari@s of 2015. This scholarship will allow me to become a future leader for the undocumented community and achieve my education and career goals!
If I had the power to change my life, I wouldn't do it. Is not that my life is perfect, is far from perfect. I think that humans have to overcome their struggles and challenges to really appreciate life. My life started in Mexico City where I was born. I was still a newborn when my parents moved to Puebla, Mexico. They established themselves there where we lived in a small house. I was 3 years old and my sister was 2 years old when my parents decided to come to the United States. Our journey coming here was not easy, like many immigrants we came with a couple of Mexican pesos and a weird address of an uncle. Years flew by and soon I was finishing high school. I applied to many colleges, but even though I had an excellent GPA, I was not admitted to the colleges of my choice. Lehman College was the only college that opened the doors to me. My journey through these academic years were full of falls, tears and sometimes even anger. I managed to overcome obstacles and I managed to finish 3 years of college. For many this might seem as nothing but for me it was years of efforts where I had to wake up at 5 in the morning, hold a full time job as a cashier, and attend school at night time. Many times I had to work weekends to pay for tuition. It was not until this year when I decided that I wanted to major in Therapeutic Recreation. Certainly I didn't know what I wanted to major in. I explored all areas and even completed a minor in Psychology. Ironically, this minor helped me in the job that I acquire as an interpreter. Thanks to a good friend I was referred to a program of interpretation where I went through an extensive training for interpreting.
I managed to be hired in a Psychiatric Center where I was able to learn a lot. I'm currently working in Jamaica Hospital as a Patient Navigator/ Medical Interpreter. My job requires assisting patients to acquire healthcare services. As an advocate of the patient we do everything to ensure quality services. When I started doing community services as an interpreter I got to explore many places from immigration law firms to the Ventanilla De Salud in the Mexican Consulate. At the end of the day, I feel a great joy to have helped someone in need. This year has been the best year of my life! Hard work pays off and everything is worth it. Thanks to this scholarship offered by the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studuies Institute I would be a step closer to the finish line!
Luis Marcial Carbajal
As always, difficult challenges offer big rewards but they require a great deal of strength and motivation. However, at the end everything is possible, as Walt Disney has always reminded me "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." As for me, coming to NYC at the age of 16 to work so I could financially support my parents was not easy, but it was necessary. My story begins in Toluca, Mexico where I used to love airplanes. I always thought of them as something magical and I wanted to learn more. As I was learning about airplanes I developed a strong interest for computers and I wanted to become a computer programmer. However, my father became very sick and my family was forced to sell everything we had to pay for my father's medical bills, but it was not enough to continue his treatment. The dream of becoming a computer programmer slowly disappeared as I decided to drop out of school to work with my grandfather in the construction industry but $35 per week wasn't enough. By then one of my uncles was coming to Manhattan, he insisted I go with him so I could work and make more money to support my family. A week later, we were on our way to NYC, we rode for a week, traveling across the USA and got enough adventures to write a book.
Here I was in this enormous city, facing many language challenges and social status but as they say "If you can make it here then you can make it just about anywhere"
I worked in a grocery store and then in several industries to support my family and as the years passed by my father recovered, I felt very happy! But I also felt that I needed to be better prepared to survive because my job then required brutal hours and offered very little pay. I attended ESL classes and learning became a habit. The previous events of my life did not change my passion for computers and I decided to continue with the GED program so I could go to college and become a programmer. However, my lack of financial support forced me to drop out. After some savings, I came back and this time not only got my GED Certification but I was also nominated for the Peter Jennings scholarship, which allowed me to continue with my first year of college in The New York City College of Technology where I recently received my Associates Degree in Computer Systems Technology.
Today, my dream is more tangible with the financial support of CUNY Becas. I am in my third year of Computer System Program, I have been nominated 2 times for the National Honor Society, I am on the Dean's list, I am an Honors Program student at NYCCT, and I am active member of several non-profit organizations.
My main goal is to create a free, useful app that helps Hispanics to continue with college and strive for a better life. With the right knowledge and skills, coupled with my passion for technology and determination, this can be a reality.
Jose Angel Mejia
My name is Jose Angel Mejia, I am 20 years old. I was born in Mexico City and arrived as an undocumented immigrant to Staten Island, New York at the age of 3. I have lived here ever since. I come from a family of eleven; four sisters, four brothers, including my two parents and me. My work as a community activist began in 2004 with the Eye Openers Youth Against Violence, which is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, grassroots anti-violence youth rights organization. As a member of the Eye Openers, I was able to improve relations across all social barriers, proactively organize for social change, educate and advocate for the DREAM Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. As a leader, community organizer, advocate and an undocumented student, I have made it my mission to show the value of education and to transform the lives of undocumented youth into leaders and role models within their communities. I graduated high school in June of 2012 and in August 2012 I graduated from the New York Law Enforcement Explorers Academy.
My life changed positively when I received DACA. On August 2013 I graduated from the New Millennium as a Certified Nursing Assistant. As of May 2014 I have been working full time as a nurse assistant for Project Hospitality’s PREP Center. In the spring of 2013 I enrolled in the CUNY College of Staten Island. Recently I successfully completed the Pipeline to Justice Pre-Law Summer Program at the CUNY School of Law, which empowered me with the legal field knowledge, giving me the skills to be a sufficient legal writer, how to fight social injustice, and what it really takes to advocate for my community. My plan is to obtain a Bachelor in Nursing and then go on to graduate school to pursue my long term goal of becoming a lawyer. I am honored to have received the 2015 CUNY Becas Scholarship Award since it’ll make it possible to be successful in my academics. It will also enable me to make a difference in my Mexican community, as my mission is to be seen as a role model to those who are undocumented like me. Throughout my lifetime I have acquired skills and overcame numerous obstacles, which proves the level of success that I have achieved. I’ve grown to become a strong undocumented student who will keep fighting until I can truly live the American Dream.
"The smart man learns from his own mistakes, the wise learn from the mistakes of others." - Arturo Adasme Vásquez
It is a phrase my dad taught me when I graduated from middle school because some of my former classmates and some friends had decided that they had had enough of studying and had decided to work rather than keep going to school. This is where my dad's phrase comes into play: he feared I would follow their path and he reminded me of the importance of studying and the suffering of working full time. Since then, I have been trying to be more analytical and observant on most of the decisions I make. My name is Edgar Morales and I'm currently a junior at Lehman College majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Computer Graphics and Imaging. I was born and raised in Tehuacán, Puebla, Mexico. I moved to the Bronx when I was about to turn sixteen and I have been living here for five years now with my family as an undocumented immigrant. One of the biggest challenges I faced when I arrived to New York was the language; since I had no basic knowledge of English and communication was a crucial aspect that I had to struggle with every day of my life. Keeping in mind what my dad says, and witnessing how some of my classmates from high school were giving up on learning English, I decided to avoid their mistake and I learned, from a classmate who learned her mistake, that "a steep path lies ahead for some who gives up on a goal without even trying". I have many dreams and goals; I also have a strong determination and passion for education. I am determined to break the stereotype that Mexicans come across the border only to take on low-paying jobs. My current academic achievements are proof of and testimony to my character and dedication towards my education. I know that an education will provide me with the essential tools I need to create a better life for my family, my community and myself. Furthermore, I joined Raza Youth Collective where I was growing as an individual and also created a political conscience for myself. I am interested in the past and in current sociopolitical movements that have helped to generate new opportunities for the Latino community. As a student I will do whatever it takes to advance myself and make my parents and the migrant community proud.
Mariana del Carmen Osorio
Music changed my life and my way of thinking. It changed my consciousness. My violin is not an inanimate object anymore, it has become an extension of my arm, my fingers and my body. Most importantly, it has become an extension and a reflection of my soul. I do not own it, neither it possesses me. We are the same resonance, the same interpretative body that transforms noise into sound and experiences into music to be enjoyed.
My name is Mariana del Carmen Osorio Adame and I was born in Chilpancingo, Guerrero. I am studying a double major in Music and Arts in Brooklyn College. The moment when I found music as disposition of my life I was only ten years old. It was a sensitive displacement, an artistic explosion from inside out that would transform me in ways that I could not imagine. Since then, my passion and love for music have led me to perform as a soloist in professional orchestras in my home state, and to obtain scholarships and awards in my country and overseas.
I have a deep commitment with music and with myself. This commitment implies to assume my artistic vocation fully, and to develop it with continued effort under every circumstance. It is this commitment that inspires me to keep looking up for new challenges and goals, always in search of clear and unexplored skies to open my wings.
I have been working hard in order to reach my dreams with the support of my violin teacher – an internationally renowned violin professor - in a prestigious college, and I feel really proud and happy because I am having the opportunity to represent my home state's cultural richness and tradition in this country. I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute for allowing me to bring my dreams closer and closer every day. I pledge to continue working hard, creating music and art, and contributing with my knowledge and actions for a better future.
My name is Diana Perez and I'm an undocumented student. I was born and raised in México City. At the age of fifteen, my mother decided to immigrate to the United States after my father left my family. Coming to this country wasn't easy, but we had chosen to face all obstacles that keep us from succeeding. Since I arrived in this country, I've taken very seriously my education. During high school, my desire to succeed led me to be the Valedictorian of my class. I have come to realize that without a competitive spirit, we wouldn't be able to overcome the obstacles that keep us from our goals. Matt Blair, a competitive cyclist once said: "Being competitive is a requirement to survive and be successful. In order to succeed, we must embrace our competitive nature, challenge ourselves, and overcome the obstacles that keep us from our dreams." I find these words very inspiring because I have a competitive spirit eager to succeed. As Blair suggests, the enemy is within oneself, and we should be focused on beating ourselves in order to achieve our goals.
I am currently an undergraduate student at The City College of New York. I'm not sure what to major in, but I've been considering being a teacher. Helping children to study and do their homework has sparked my interest in teaching. I believe I have the potential to be a great influence on future generations, and I want to help all those eager to excel. It is an honor to be part of the CUNY Becari@s of 2015 because I can get to help our community. This scholarship not only gives me the opportunity to continue my education and help others, but also to be the first person in my family who attends to college. The CUNY Becas Scholarship is a great support for students like me who don't have the means to continue their education. It motivates us to keep working hard to achieve our goals in the company of people who share a lot in common with us.
My name is Julia Ramirez. I am a first generation Mexican immigrant. Both of my parents are from Puebla, Mexico and crossed the border while my mother was two months pregnant with me, her first child. I am proud of my parents for crossing the border to give me a better future, I was their motivation to seek a better future for me and they are my motivation to seek a better future for immigrants like them here in the United States. My father has always believed in hard work. When I was in my senior year of high school and did not know where to begin he said to me "Don't measure your success, don't doubt your role in life, and don't be selfish, instead concentrate on the work, the work will lead you." It is a phrase I now hold as a way of life. I have learned to concentrate on what matters to me the most and work hard towards my goals. I have found that my passion is helping immigrants like my parents, and learning from them. I have traveled to my parents' small hometown in Mexico and have been able to influence small presidential elections and work with the older population in surrounding cities. I am also part of the John Jay Dreamers club and volunteer at my local parish help the large immigrant community find work and resources. I have decided that helping the Mexican community is my passion, despite the hardships that come along with it. I am proud of my country and origin and hope to make a difference in other immigrants' lives. I am a junior in John Jay College of Criminal Justice where I am in the B.S/M.A program. I will be attaining my Bachelors in Criminal Justice Management with a minor in Economics and a Masters degree in Public Administration. My goal is to be a role model for my two younger siblings and create a better and more equal America for immigrants.
Amalia Rojas is an artist, activist and student who is fully committed to making the world a better place. Rojas is currently a senior at the City University of New York. She is pursing a Major in Theater, with a concentration in playwriting, and minoring in Mexican-American Studies and Political Science. At the Latino international Theater Festival of New York, an organization that produced TeatroStageFest (2007-2013) featuring groundbreaking theater from Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain side by side with local companies and individual artists, Rojas led the community initiative projects, which gave access to great theater to to underserved communities at no cost. Her credits include various plays at the Spanish Repertory of theater, and other off-Broadway stage readings. Amalia is planning on using her education to give back to her community and hopes to continue advocating social change through her craft, she is currently a playwrighting apprentice at Vassar and New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theater training program. Her hope is to fully capture and share the stories of migrant women all while revolutionizing the American theater.
Laura L. Velázquez Perea
My name is Laura Lizbeth Velazquez Perea and I was born in Mexico City. At the age of three I left Mexico with my mother and older sister to reunite with my father in New York. I began my education within the New York public school system and strived to do my best. My mother made education a priority within my family and encouraged my sister and I to do well in school because it was her belief that education was a powerful tool that could change a person's life and the only thing that couldn't be taken away from someone. I value knowledge and with all of the encouragement of my family, friends and teachers I always kept high hopes of attending college.
Through my journey in high school I encountered various roadblocks due to my immigration status in this country, but I kept moving forward with my life. I grew up believing that any challenges I faced could be overcome with the right attitude. Eventually the American government passed DACA which opened up some doors for me. I continued to work hard to do well academically, balancing both my after school activities in high school and college classes. I developed a great love for science and began to think about majoring in Biochemistry. It was tough going through the college process and realizing that my family didn't have the financial resources to pay for my college tuition. I wasn't sure if things would work out well for me, but I continued to search for ways to finance my way through college and through a former becaria I learned about this scholarship program.
This past June I was able to graduate high school with both an Advanced Regents diploma and an Associates Degree from Hostos Community College and this coming fall I will be a transfer student at City College. None of my accomplishments would have been possible without the support of my family and the CUNY becas program. I look forward to my journey through college and I hope to motivate more DREAMers to pursue a career in the STEM fields.
A quote to keep in mind, "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin"
My name is Denise Vivar and I am currently a junior at Lehman College. In 2013 I was not going to enroll in college because I did not received any support from my family and as an undocumented student my financial resources were very limited. Thanks to CUNY BECAS I was not only able to enrolled my freshman year but with their continue support I have been able to complete two full years of college. I am double majoring in Political science and Urban Sociology. I am not an organizer nor an activist because titles corrupt. I am a brown womyn ambitiously trying to complete my bachelors degree. So my little cousins, nephews, and every brown womyn can know that it is possible my undocumented status never defined me but instead made me challenge everyone who said that I couldn't.
Meet our Becari@s!