Berenice Ramirez

Photo of Berenice (middle) with her family on her graduation

Fellow

"Not only was I happy to receive assistance, but to build solutions and to have community with my cohort is something that I can’t put a price tag on."

I’m Berenice Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant, a student at the West Hills College Lemoore, a mother to two beautiful children, and a wife. This year, I was a participant in Immigrants Rising’s Central Valley Project. ​an emergency grant and leadership training for students in California’s Central Valley.

Nestled in the shadows of the big cities, Central Valley is a region that’s often overlooked in access to resources and opportunities. But the Central Valley is the agricultural heart of California, and immigrants are the backbone of this community that feeds much of this country.

I knew that my participation would be challenging: I needed to make sure that I had childcare, didn’t have a working computer, and felt really conscious about my accent. But Estefanía and Rocío from the Immigrants Rising provided a laptop and gave me the encouragement that I needed to know that I belonged in this program.

With my team members, Eloghosa, Juan, and Ruben, we devised a way to empower undocumented young people in Central Valley access resources through app-based technology. We built it based on our own experiences navigating complex systems as undocumented students. I remember how it felt to be turned away because I didn’t know that there were resources for students like me out there. But I now know that there are resources out there that I can access to prepare me for success.

Photo of Berenice displaying her medal and cords

I didn’t know that I needed the Central Valley Project to help me thrive, but Immigrants Rising’s Central Valley Project was an experience that gave me the confidence to know that I can succeed. Not only was I happy to receive assistance, but to build solutions and to have community with my cohort is something that I can’t put a price tag on.

Throughout my journey, there were times when I felt like I wanted to give up, but I was able to put myself back on track. Even after dropping out of high school, I found my way back to education through adult school. After surviving a brutal car accident, I was persistent to piece my life back together. And through this fellowship, I now know that I am not alone in my journey because I have this wonderful community with me.