Community and local leaders come together to support PCC’s DREAMers
Story and photos by Elia Unverzagt
On Wednesday, Feb. 16, the local community gathered together to support Portland Community College’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and undocumented students.
The PCC Foundation’s virtual 2022 DREAMers Breakfast attracted more than 250 community members and raised more than $35,000.
- The fund-raiser for PCC’s undocumented and DACA students helps instill hope that PCC is truly a place for everyone to belong. If you were not able to attend the event, but would like to watch the recording, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Donations are accepted all year.
PCC’s DREAMers Resource Center – the first of its kind in the state of Oregon – provides a safe place for students of all immigration statuses to reach their academic goals, gain leadership skills and receive financial and legal support. Despite the effects of the pandemic, the DREAMers Resource Center has continued to provide mentorship, support services and scholarship opportunities.
For six years, the community has donated more than $260,000 to support DREAMers students. For the 2021-22 academic year, 20 students received DREAMers Scholarships from the PCC Foundation.
“The DREAMers Resource Center is very important because it helps bring people to PCC,” said Lilian Dávila Avizures, a DREAMers scholarship recipient. “They show them that it’s possible to get a college education. Being involved in this program has helped my confidence, as well as my English skills. And now, the DREAMers scholarship is paying for my college, so I can help other students pursue their dreams.”
Dávila Avizures, a native of Guatemala and dedicated mother, said that after she earns her associate degree from PCC, she will continue her education at a four-year university. And she’ll continue to be a role model for her children as she works towards becoming a lawyer. She also wants to stay involved in programs that help the community.
“My connections at the DREAMers Resource Center helped keep me in school,” she added. “I could not have done it without them. The move to remote learning was very hard and I was worried I would have to drop out, but a scholarship gave me the ability to complete my classes and a pathway to finishing my degree. Knowing that someone, a scholarship donor, believes in me has given me increased confidence.”
Emceed by Roberto Suarez (PCC’s Pathway Guidance Manager), the DREAMers Breakfast featured two songs by singer/songwriter and PCC Alumna Edna Vázquez. Featured speakers included Mark Mitsui (PCC president), Luz Maciel Villarroel (center coordinator), Leni Tupper (PCC CLEAR Clinic director and Paralegal Program co-chair) and Iván Hernández (Hillsboro Hops community development manager and PCC graduate).
The stars of the program were the PCC students and their stories of resilience. Representing their voices, Dávila Avizures thanked the attendees for supporting the fund-raiser and the students.
“I am so excited to continue my education and to see where it takes me,” she said.
In 2017, through the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative, Meyer Memorial Trust awarded the PCC Foundation funding to help launch the center. At the time, the DREAMer Resource Center was the first of its kind at any Oregon community college or university. It provides outreach, education, advocacy and community resources, bilingual materials, and funding for urgent and emergency services for undocumented and DACA) students and their families.