At Immigrants Rising, we develop the leadership capacity of undocumented young people through career training, mentorship, professional development, and opportunities to educate and empower the undocumented community. This year, we have selected 5 young undocumented professionals pursuing a career in high school education in California. Through the High School Career Program, they will receive professional and leadership development, mentorship, and hands-on career experience while they empower high school students at a host site.
Host Site: Linda E. Marquez Libra Academy
When Alison found out she was an undocumented immigrant at the beginning of her senior year of high school, it triggered a severe depression, causing her to skip so much school it threatened her chances to graduate on time. Not only did she have to learn to come to terms with this newfound identity, she also had to juggle three different college applications, a senior-year academic workload, extracurricular obligations, and a job all at the same time. As a low-income, first-generation college student, she knew that navigating the college application process would entail an extra layer of challenge and complexity completely foreign to her classmates, most of whom were from middle and upper-class backgrounds and college-educated families. Going through obstacle after obstacle, while suffering from depression, made that year the hardest of her life.
Although Alison received a full ride to the college of her choice, she still struggled (and currently struggles) with truly believing that she is capable of succeeding in higher education. She understands that being an undocumented, low-income, first-generation immigrant and college student means learning to survive in an education system that was not built for people like her to succeed. Therefore, Alison wants to use her privilege as someone attending college to empower, support, and learn from marginalized students just like her. Her work is inspired by the determination to create educational spaces that are compatible with the identities that many marginalized students bring to the table, while uplifting and elevating their intellectual spirit, curiosity, and empathy.
Host Site: Pittsburg High School
Jun immigrated with his family to the United States from South Korea at the age of seven. His parents wanted him and his brother to receive a better education and pursue a better life. Jun is a recent graduate of the University of California Davis, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. During his time at UC Davis, Jun had the pleasure of building a community with other undocumented students through the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center. The center provided him with knowledge and resources in order to successfully navigate through college as an undocumented student. His interest in high school education stems from his dream of becoming a school social worker in the future. He hopes to impact undocumented high school students through mentorship and by building positive relationships and looks forward to providing the resources and knowledge needed to transition from high school to college and successfully navigate through their academic careers.
Host Site: Alpha Cindy Avitia High School
Khang graduated with a master’s degree in engineering at San Jose State University as a proud dreamer. He was an intern for a student-run program called HEFAS (Higher Education For AB540/Undocumented Students) that supported struggling dreamers in college and high school transitioning to college. During 6 years of college and university, Khang has also been working as a tutor teaching mostly high school and college students in different subjects. He is excited to mentor students and transfer his knowledge and experiences to hopefully make the path a little smoother for them.
Host Site: BUILD National
Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Tobore was born to two creative and entrepreneurial parents; a musically inspired father who played the saxophone for legends like Fela and a mother who owned a dental clinic, which she named after Tobore. Despite relocating to America at an early age, her deeply rooted love for her culture and background has kept her grounded as her passion for design evolved. After freelancing with an array of notable companies in the floral and design industry, Tobore relocated to Los Angeles in 2018 and launched her floral and design brand, The Petal Effect. As an avid lover of vibrant, bold colors and a sprinkle of glam, it is her hope to share the true essence of flowers and the colorful magic they bring to any space or special moment.
Host Site: Escuela Popular Accelerated Family Learning Center
Zaide and her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 2008. She graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a master’s degree in psychology. As a first-generation student, Zaide understands the unique challenges that students face in their transition from high school to college and looks forward to sharing resources and creating a support system for students to achieve their educational and career goals. Zaide wants to inspire and empower students to become their own self-advocates and pursue any goal they desire. In the future, she would like to become a high school educator and participate in the High School Career program to gain direct career experience. Zaide looks forward to collaborating with others who share a similar vision to make a positive difference in students’ lives through mentorship and education.