Dreams Alliance is committed to improving the access and retention of undocumented students in higher education. Join us at a fundraising banquet as we award scholarships to outstanding students, and honor alumni and those who support our students making their dreams a reality. Help us raise awareness of the benefits undocumented students bring to higher education.
Dennis Lopez is the product of the ghetto of Southeast San Diego. His mother, a single parent, has always been the primary source of his inspiration to serve others. The first in his family to go to college, Dennis was welcomed by MEChA at UC Irvine where he learned the benefit of collective action to address the needs of Chicanos/Latinos and working for social justice. As a professional in educational equity programs for 30 years, Dennis focused on college access for low-income families including ethnic and linguistic groups under-represented in California public higher education. For the past 5 years he has been an Adjunct Lecturer on Ethnic & Women’s Studies at Cal Poly Pomona.
Dennis has observed the most fervent believers in education as a tool for liberation have been undocumented immigrant students and parents. Since 1982, Dennis has worked collectively with others to serve undocumented students and parents navigate the contradictions between educational laws and policies and immigration laws and policies. He is currently working on a study of Latino undocumented immigrant students of the 1980s, 1990s, and the 21st century and educators and immigration attorneys who have worked with them the past 34 years.
Growing up in Southeast San Diego during the 1960s and 1970s, Dennis would see daily television news reports of “Round-Ups” of people who looked like him under arrest by the Border Patrol and in handcuffs. While attending San Diego public schools in the 1960s and 1970s whose enrollments were racially segregated with concentrated poverty, Dennis found that his academic role models were immigrants. As an undergraduate at UC Irvine in the mid to late 1970s he found Mexican immigrant students to be among the leadership of MEChA, Chicanos for Creative Medicine, Mujeres Latinas, and the Mexican American Engineering Society.
Over the past 40 years Dennis has witnessed the rich diversification of the Chicano/Latino community with the increase of immigrants from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. The potential of unity among all national origin groups, and the potential to coalesce with other progressive groups, provides hope to improve conditions for all. He is grateful to the supporters of the CSU Northridge DREAM Students and the DREAMer Center for the opportunity to take part in this special event.
Born in Mexico City and raised in Los Angeles, United States, Nancy Landa is an advocate for migrant rights. At the age of nine, she emigrated with her family to Los Angeles where she established a life of 20 years as an undocumented migrant. In her time as a student at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), she was actively involved on campus and in her senior year, she served as President of Associated Students, Inc. (2003-04), becoming the first Latina student body president in the university’s history. On September 1, 2009, Landa was deported to Mexico and settled in Tijuana where she lived for three years under the shadows of deportation. After President Barack Obama’s announcement in June 2012 on the Deferred Action (DACA) program, which excludes deportees like herself, Landa decided to publicly share her experience of forced return which was first published by CSUN’s El Nuevo Sol. Subsequently, her story has been featured in major print and media publications and also included in the following books: Dreamers, an immigrant generation’s right for their American Dream (Eileen Truax: 2013 – Spanish edition & 2015 – English edition) and Los Otros Dreamers, The Book (Jill Anderson and Nin Solís 2014). Landa has been leading initiatives that merge research, social action and digital activism to create transnational networks of solidarity among migrants and advocates.