In June, I had to opportunity to be part of the College for All Coalition! I boarded a bus with about 50 other people and set off to my destination seven hours away. Students, parents and community members of all ethnicities from Pomona and Los Angeles went to Sacramento and talked to state assembly members and senators about AB 699, Safe Schools For Immigrant Students, and continuing support of SB 1050, College Readiness Block Grant. AB 699 would guarantee undocumented students protection from ICE in schools. The elongation of SB 1050 would continue to give funding to schools with majority low income, English language learners, and foster youth to support college admissions and completion. Unfortunately, the current money allocated from SB 1050 is due to run out in two years and AB 699 is yet to pass; however, this coalition gave us the opportunity to express our opinions to legislators. By sharing our concerns, we became active advocates for our communities.
With my group of five other amazing people, we ventured the hallways of the Capitol building and bumped into people such as Jimmy Gomez, my assemblyman. We smiled and talked and had similar encounters with other legislators. Although we mostly met with staffers, they made me feel incredibly important because of the evident attention they gave me while sharing my story. Growing up a Latina in a low-income community, it was a challenge to be admitted to UCLA, my dream school. I received help from programs like Kid City but my peers were not as fortunate. I looked at my community and realized the importance of support in our schools because my neighbors’ didn’t have the same sort of programs and their accomplishments were limited. In addition, I emphasized how much it meant to me to see people of color on my college campus. My dream of seeing faces like mine reflected in the student body would inspire me to continue to strive for my goals.
My fellow group mates offered grins and reassuring nods to each other during the storytelling because we saw our struggles were the same despite being from different parts of Southern California. It became obvious to me the problems must be the same for students across the state and that this was our chance to be their voice.
Even though we were all nervous, in the end we felt empowered and ready to continue to make change. We left that ginormous building knowing we brought our stories to the people that write policies that affect us. Looking around, I saw that our differences in ethnicity didn’t matter because we all had the same mission: watching each other receive a postsecondary education and rising above stigma.
Thank you Kid City for letting me be the voice for my peers.