Alice Matsuda is a student at Santa Clara University, studying Biomedical Engineering. Since 2016, Alice has been part of Immigrants Rising’s I4IC (Immigrants for Inclusion and Change) group, and in 2017 was accepted into the New American Scholars Program.
How did you get connected to our organization?
I met Denisse Rojas at a pre-health conference in UC Davis, and that was when I realized that there were actually undocumented students in universities.
I had come from Brazil in 2001, and had started a little business cleaning houses with my mother. At that time I couldn’t find anyone to talk to about my immigration status or ask about how to get into college. With minimal English skills and little understanding of school admissions, I had attempted to enroll in a high school without success, then walked into the admissions office at UCSF Medical School (no need to talk about the embarrassment) where a very kind lady gave me a brochure to Skyline College. I later found out I couldn’t afford to go there due to my CA residency status.
Several years later I was able to enroll at San Mateo College and I thought “I will stay here in community college taking all the classes I can.” But at this workshop where I met Denisse, they were talking about how to finance med school for undocumented students, and I realized that I had a chance to pursue my education. It was a breakthrough moment.
It was definitely life-changing to find E4FC [Educators for Fair Consideration, now known as Immigrants Rising]. I recently transferred from community college to Santa Clara University to continue studying, and, hopefully, major in Biomedical Engineering. I could not have done it without the support of all my friends at E4FC. Valeria Avila, whom I met through E4FC, helped me choose Santa Clara and has become my mentor there.
I still clean a few homes on Saturdays so I can make ends meet, but I don’t have time to work during the weekdays because I’m a full-time student. I was lucky enough to get a scholarship through E4FC and I’m really grateful for that. I’m in a really happy place now.
What are a few of your favorite memories?
I have too many to list, too many moments. Every I4IC meeting is important to me. Sometimes, we meet just to have fun, to be normal people instead of being stressed out about all the challenges we face. It’s this small, strong, bonded group, that I can count on at all times.
My first meeting was overwhelming, in a good way. Each group member who walked in the door had an amazing story to tell. Not to mention the warmth and embrace that I felt from everyone. At that moment I knew I had found a home and a family for life.
It was extremely hard for me to open up and talk about my immigration status. That was my biggest obstacle, which prevented me from getting the information I needed in order go to school. Now, through E4FC, I’ve met brave people, heard their stories, and been inspired to not be so closed. I don’t feel as vulnerable anymore. If I have to speak or tell my story, I know I have support, and I don’t need to be afraid.
What are your hopes for E4FC’s future?
My hope is that E4FC continues to change people’s lives and transform our community. I especially hope they continue reaching out to people who, like me years ago, are afraid or unaware of how to get to school, who haven’t been able to pursue their career dreams because of financial barriers or other reasons.
I hope E4FC is always around. It makes me feel strong knowing that we have this big organization with people on our side who truly care.