In spring of 2016, a group of equity-minded students had a dream: to create a special scholarship for undocumented students attending Marquette University. With the help of dedicated staff, these students put together the inaugural Dreamers Gala to raise funds for the Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J. Dreamers Scholarship. This scholarship seeks to provide additional support to undocumented students who demonstrate merit and financial need in pursuing a Marquette University education.
Most undocumented youth were brought to the United States by their families at a young age and grow up attending American schools, speaking English, and believing in the American dream—that with hard work, anyone can rise up and overcome the circumstances of their birth. But for many undocumented students, no matter how hard they work, their dream of college is out of reach. These young men and women are not eligible for federal financial aid as this requires citizenship or legal permanent residency. The result is that, of the 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from high school each year, only about 5-10% will attend a postsecondary institution.
It was the vision of the original Dreamers Gala organizers to find ways to better support undocumented students in our community to achieve their dreams. They named the scholarship after Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., a proponent of liberating the oppressed in order “to reach the fullness of humanity.” As a Catholic, Jesuit institution, it is central to our identity to recognize the inherent dignity of each human person, and to strive for a more just world—one in which all of God’s children can flourish. And each year we re-commit ourselves to that purpose through renewed efforts to support undocumented youth.
Since the inaugural event, the Dreamers Gala has continued to be a yearly student-led initiative that brings together students, administrators, faculty, staff, Jesuits, and community members in a beautiful celebration of the accomplishments and resilience of our undocumented/DACAmented students. The annual fundraiser raised over $150,000 in the first four years, allowing us to endow the scholarship fund and ensure its impact for years to come.
We invite you to help make dreams come true. The fifth annual Dreamers Gala: Power in Persistence will take place on March 17, 2020. Registration is now live. Online registration closes March 9th. You may also visit our facebook page for more information.
For questions about the Dreamers Gala, please contact:
Jacki Black, Staff Co-chair
Associate Director for Hispanic Initiatives