Susan Suarez-Madson is an education consultant who focuses on advising schools and organizations in how to support first-generation college bound students. Susan has been an ally and supporter of Immigrants Rising since 2009 and served on the selection committee for New American Scholars Program Selection Committee from 2010 to 2012.
What is your first memory of our organization?
I first heard about it from Carrie Evans and Kathy Gin when they presented at a WACAC (Western Association for College Admission Counseling) event held at California State University-East Bay. Carrie and Kathy screened a documentary film that they had created to a room of college counselors, advocates and others. I was sitting in the back of the auditorium and was completely taken in by the film. I had been working with undocumented students for a few years at that point and was looking for more ways to support them.
Knowing that E4FC [Educators for Fair Consideration, now known as Immigrants Rising] existed just re-energized me. I don’t know if I talked to Carrie and Kathy at the end of the session or if I was too embarrassed to do so, but I remember going home and telling my husband that we *had to* support you and got him to agree to a $1,000 donation.
Later, Kathy reached out to ask me to serve on the scholarship selection committee and I did that for a few years. It’s something that I’m very proud of to this date, and I’m so happy to see how much the organization has evolved and grown over the years.
Why do you continue to support our work?
It provides critical support to a student population that is so full of potential. I’m a child of immigrants so I know the struggle personally. I have quite a few family members who are undocumented and have worked with hundreds of undocumented students throughout my career.
It’s a group we cannot ignore and we must do all we can to ensure that all students have access to opportunities. I believe you lead the way in this work by providing information, resources, scholarships, and other opportunities to a group of students that I find to be so inspiring.
What’s most compelling about our organization?
It’s run by undocumented students, that the students it serves ultimately deliver the services that it provides.
I remember feeling sad when I was no longer asked back on to the scholarship committee but when I found out that it was because it had been filled by students that you serve, I was thrilled! I love that this organization doesn’t just support students; it empowers, engages, and employs students in all areas of its operation.