Catherine Eusebio, a graduate of UC Berkeley, is a program officer at the North Star Fund in New York City. Catherine was part of Immigrants Rising’s New American Scholars Program in 2010 and 2011. She also participated in the Creative Writing Program and on the Legal Services Team.
What are you most proud of?
Being able to graduate from college, that was a major struggle.
I first heard about E4FC [Educators for Fair Consideration, now known as Immigrants Rising] because I was seeking scholarships. At the time, there really weren’t that many scholarships, so I was constantly hustling. I went to my scholarship office at my university, and got this E4FC scholarship list that was passed around in these secret ways to people who might be be eligible.
I got a scholarship from E4FC and was able to finish school, something that once seemed impossible. There are doors that wouldn’t have been open for me if not for E4FC. They made me feel that I was worthy and that the next opportunity is really just a moment’s step away. Even now, I’m still deeply connected to and supported by the community that I found there.
How else were you impacted by your experiences with our organization?
In the Creative Writing Program, I realized the power that I had as a writer. To tell my own story and that it was really well received, I was surprised by that. Harvard Education Review published our writing as a collection. It was powerful and awesome that our creativity could be recognized in that way because, at the time, there weren’t that many undocumented folks telling their own stories.
Our organization believes that personal transformation of individual undocumented young people fuels bigger systems change. Have the changes that you’ve experienced impacted others?
This is uncomfortable, because I don’t want to err on the side of being boastful. I would perhaps say that I was super focused on trying to create more opportunities for Asian Americans because in this community, there are so many Latinx Undocumented folks. I saw that there was marginalization happening, broadly speaking, that there were more resources available, like there were classes for Latino students.
I was a really vocal advocate to make sure that Asian Americans are included in any decisions we were trying to make in the space. Even with the very limited resources available for undocumented [people], they are even less so for Asian Americans because our community is not as vocal about our needs, and the fact that we exist. So I was definitely out there and speaking up.
What are your hopes for our organization and community?
I hope that E4FC continues to innovate and continues to do things that other immigrant rights or serving organizations are not. It’s always looking for that unique niche that feels super rooted in what the community wants to do.