Written by Lucero Benitez, COSS Communications Specialist

A week-long series of events that include educational workshops, movie screenings and information sessions will be held April 4 to April 8 at Fresno State. DREAM Week will highlight the experiences that undocumented students have while trying to obtain a higher education. 

As part of the Undocumented in the Central Valley (UCV) research team, Dr. Susana Hernández (Department of Educational Leadership), Dr. Luis Fernando Macías (Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies), and Gaby Encinas (Dream Success Center) have dedicated their research efforts to exploring the various experiences that undocumented students have.

DREAM Week will highlight their findings including: students experience ongoing challenges and barriers to receiving a higher education, there are multiple support resources that students rely on, and that there is an incredible amount of perseverance and determination that students exhibit.

“Each event is important because it touches on another different part of the experience, the kickoff event will go in detail around what is to be expected throughout the week,” said Dr. Macias. “The big big event that we would love to have folks from the public attend is the screening of the documentary Infiltrators which highlights undocumented activists pushing back on the private detention centers nationwide.” 

Subsequent events will look at different aspects of the undocumented experiences such as research on student perspectives, institutional agents perspectives including those of higher education administrator staff and what they can do to support undocumented students. 

According to the Dream Success Center Coordinator, Gaby Encinas, it’s estimated there are 600 to 650 students on campus known as dreamers. A dreamer is commonly referred to an undocumented student who is aspiring to enter the workforce, go on to college or the military. Stemming from the Dream Act that was intended to provide a pathway to citizenship for college students in their late teens and early twenties.

The UCV research team has received recognition through acceptance at conferences like the American Educational Researchers Association, and the NASA conference to explore the purposes of the dream success centers. They are also recipients of the 2021 Fidler Award that supports their research.

Other events during DREAM Week include a panel with the research team, and a student research spotlight with two scholars who will present their undergraduate honors thesis and their dissertation focusing on undocumented peoples in the Central Valley.

April 4

DREAM Week Opening & Kick-Off Event

Location: HML 2206 | 3:00 pm- 4:30 pm

Opening session to kickoff Fresno State’s DREAM week. The series of activities of DREAM Week will provide the campus community an opportunity to engage in advocacy and support efforts in solidarity with undocumented students throughout the CSU.

Film Screening: The Infiltrators

Location: Leon and Pete Peters Education Center (Student Rec Center) | 6:00 pm- 9:00 pm

This documentary highlights the stories of undocumented activists who were purposefully detained and went undercover at a private, for-profit detention facility in Florida. After film screening, protagonists Viridiana Martinez and Marco Saavedra will be present for a Q & A. 

April 5

Undocu-Ally Training Part 1

Location: HML 2134 | 9:00 am- 12:00 pm

Must register through CSU Learn or email Gaby Encinas at gencinas@csufresno.edu to attend. Allies will: increase their knowledge and effectiveness to serve Dreamers on campus; increase their awareness of the needs, concerns, challenges, and opportunities for Dreamers; create a welcoming and supportive environment for all Fresno State students. 

Research Talk – Undocumented Students in the Central Valley

Location: HML 3212 | 1:30 pm- 2:30 pm

This research talk explores undocumented students’ experiences with admission, transition, attendance, and completion of higher education in California’s Central Valley. 

Know Your Rights

Virtual Event: 5:30 – 6:30 pm

Register to receive zoom link. Legal expert panel of immigration attorneys from Immigrant Legal Defense will provide training on how we can all use our constitutional rights, regardless of immigration status, in the event of ICE encounters. 

April 6

Research Talk – Engaging in Platicas

location: HML 3212 | 10:00 am- 11:00 am

This research talk will describe pláticas and its origins, how it was adopted by the Undocumented in the Central Valley research collaborative, and how it can be adopted to conduct research in more humanizing ways. 

Immigration Legal Panel with Immigrant Legal Defense

Virtual Event: 1:00 – 2:00 pm

Register to receive zoom link. Legal expert panel of immigration attorneys will share information about the last 3 year effort in providing free and confidential immigration services to Fresno State’s students, faculty, and staff. 

Immigration Legal Consultations

Email gencinas@csufresno.edu to schedule a consultation.

Direct immigration legal services are available free of charge to CSU students and employees. Attorneys will be available to assist students with general consultations, DACA renewals and general assistance in filling out forms such as family-based petitions. 

April 7

Undocu-Ally Training Part 2

Location: HML 2134 | 9:00 am- 12:00 pm

Must register through CSU Learn or email Gaby at gencinas@csufresno.edu to attend.

Continuation of Part 1 Undocu-Ally training 

Research Talk – Institutional Support for Undocumented Students

Location: HML 2206 | 3:30 pm- 4:30 pm

This research talk explores the role of institutional agents (student affairs staff/faculty) on the educational experiences of undocumented students in California’s Central Valley. This talk will raise important considerations for how institutional agents can better support this student population. 

April 8

Student Research Showcase

Location: University Business Center (PB 191) | 9:45 am- 10:45 am

The Student Research Showcase features research, scholarship, and creative activities from and/or on undocumented students from the Central Valley. 

DREAM Week Closing Event: Student & Alumni Panel

Location: University Business Center (PB 191) | 11:00 am- 12:00 pm

Student panel will feature current and former undergraduate/graduate students from across the Central Valley and share their experiences about their transition to college, their experiences while in college, and how they navigated challenges across the educational pipeline.