Conceived as a way to both capitalize on and grow AlumniCorps’ extensive network of its program alumni and nonprofit partners, The Bold Idea started with a two-year pilot focused on immigration. Implemented in partnership with Appleseed – a network of public interest justice centers throughout the U.S. and Mexico – the initiative has attracted a variety of new partner organizations to our work. As a key aspect of this project, we have organized a series of webinars on specific topics of interest around immigration. The second webinar in the series was entitled Supporting Immigrant Students in Universities. It was held on September 27, 2018, and attracted 99 registrations and 45 participants to tune in live and engage with the speakers.
Sahand Keshavarz Rahbar ’17, AlumniCorps’ Bold Idea Fellow, now in his second year, found the featured guest speakers for the webinar by first leveraging our connection to Princeton University’s Khristina Gonzalez, Associate Dean of the College and Director of Programs for Access and Inclusion, and asking for suggestions. After some extensive research, he was referred to Mariana Paola Sarmiento Hernández (center), a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and founder of the UndocuNetwork student organization; and Ariana Mora Mero (right), Program Coordinator, Services for Undocumented Students, at the University of California (UC), Merced. AlumniCorps had recently engaged Dr. Laura Quiros, Associate Professor at Adelphi University and consultant, to co-facilitate an Emerging Leaders professional development session on diversity, equity, and inclusion (see page 2 for details). Dr. Quiros recommended inviting Yurilka Hernandez (left)— a psychotherapist at the Acacia Network in New York City with over 10 years of experience in the areas of mental health, cultural competency, and immigrant families— to join the panel. Once again, AlumniCorps’ personally connected network catalyzed the convening of experts on a public issue.
The three guest speakers provided a wealth of resources: Yurilka shed light on the impact of deportation on children and young adults, including those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. Mariana spoke about the process of institutionalizing resources for undocumented students in higher education, while Ariana spoke about the implementation of an orientation program for undocumented students at UC, Merced. A free recording of the webinar can be found on the AlumniCorps website or obtained by emailing our Bold Idea Fellow .