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After Becoming The First Undocumented Student At Her School To Get Her Ph.D., She’s Concerned About DACA’s Future

As the first undocumented student to receive her Ph.D. from the University of California, Merced, Yuriana Aguilar is working hard to advance research on cardiovascular disease. But her success did not come easily. From struggling to pay for her undergrad tuition without DACA, to then having the amazing opportunity of completing her Ph.D. with the benefits of DACA, Yuriana Aguilar has been on both sides of this U.S. policy. But the question is, what’s going to happen next?

Here is Yuriana’s story and what she has to say to those whose lives also depend on DACA.

Yuriana Aguilar comes from a very humble background. Her parents only made it to second and sixth grade, but they never doubted her ability to excel in higher education.

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CREDIT: SASHA KHOKHA / KQED

“Sometimes I would get very frustrated, and they would say, ‘Tú eres muy inteligente, you can do it,'” Aguilar said. “And I would be like, okay, I don’t need that, but I think I did.”

Her parents made their children’s education a priority. “My parents figured out that education was the key,” Aguilar told mitú.

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CREDIT: SASHA KHOKHA / KQED

“With some families, if they have a truck or if they have a little house, even if their kids are barely making it out of high school, they think they’ve made it. And maybe they have, because in Mexico life is a lot harder,” Aguilar explained. “But somehow my parents knew that education was the key, and they were right.”

During her first four years in college, Aguilar was turned away from scholarships and other financial aid programs because DACA didn’t exist until 2012.

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CREDIT: YURIANA AGUILAR / FACEBOOK

“One of the frustrations was trying to show the type of status I had,” she explained to mitú.

“When I was getting my Bachelors from 2007 to 2011, I could see a lot of people wanted to help me, they wanted me to have access to different opportunities and different scholarships, but [the organizations] would just tell me, ‘We can’t help you.'” Aguilar dealt with this for years. “It was very discouraging that they didn’t want to look at any of my qualifications.”

After getting her bachelor’s degree, she thought she had to end her education to give her siblings a chance to go to college.

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CREDIT: YURIANA AGUILAR / FACEBOOK

“I just couldn’t continue with school because my parents would be even more burdened. So I said, I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to get my Ph.D.”

“I was looking at the options and one of the options was being able to work for the university and the university would cover graduate school. But my [undocumented status] wasn’t going to work that way because I didn’t have a work permit, so I was going to have to pay for it. And I wasn’t going to be able to do that.”

But everything changed once DACA was implemented.

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CREDIT: YURIANA AGUILAR

“Now with DACA, there are more students coming through the education pipeline. It’s a huge difference. The reason I could complete graduate school and get my Ph.D. was DACA.”

Post-graduate Aguilar continues to research cardiovascular disease in Chicago and experts say she could help save lives.

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Credit: Yuriana Aguilar / Facebook

Christy Snyder, a member of the graduate division, explained: “The goal of Aguilar’s research is to better understand the molecular mechanisms that generate TWAs — knowledge that could eventually help to predict the likelihood of sudden cardiac death much earlier and allow those at high risk to get treatment.”

But now Aguilar’s concern is: what’s going to happen to DACA?

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CREDIT: SASHA KHOKHA / KQED

“My mom and dad both say que no me preocupe, to not worry. But a part of me is very concerned and very worried, because the president has spoken very openly about canceling DACA. So I’m very worried, but I mean, we just have to keep going… even if we’re not very sure.”

“When I was working on my bachelor’s and then my Ph.D., I wasn’t even sure if they were going to let me work as a scientist in the future,” Aguilar said. “But you just have to keep going.”

We asked Aguilar what advice she would give to those whose education, careers, and lives also depend on DACA, and she said she wants people to remain hopeful.

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CREDIT: YURIANA AGUILAR / FACEBOOK

“I would just tell them what I tell myself every day: we’ll see what happens,” she told mitú.

“And whatever happens, we’ve been on the other side. On the other side when they didn’t help us, when there was no support, there were no work permits. So I think if we go back to that side, unfortunately it will be very sad because we’ve tasted what it’s like to be legal,” Aguilar said. “And I don’t know what would happen in terms of a job. Well, I do know what would happen. Everybody’s hands would be tied again.”

“People have told me that this country wants good immigration. So they think we’re going to get something better than DACA. We’ve taken a step back, and I just hope that DACA does not go back as well. Hopefully this president doesn’t keep his promises on that.”


READ: Former Presidential Candidate Tells Educated Dreamer To Go To Another Country

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Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

Things That Matter

Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP via Getty Images

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is not a contentious topic among Americans. The program offers young adults who entered the U.S. as children relief from deportation and a chance to live out of the shadows. Now that it has been reinstated, Google wants to help some people achieve the dream of being a DACA recipient.

Google is pledging a quarter of a million dollars to help people apply for DACA.

The Trump administration did everything in their power to end DACA. The constant uncertainty has left hundreds of thousands of young people in limbo. The war waged against Dreamers by the Trump administration came to a temporary end when a federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf was illegally installed as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. It invalidated a member from Wolf stating that no new DACA applications would be approved.

Kent Walker, the SVP of Global Affairs, laid out the case for DACA in an essay.

Walker discusses the uncertainty the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients currently face after the tumultuous time for the program. He also touches on the economic hardships that has befallen so many because of the pandemic. With so many people out of work, some Dreamers do not have the money to apply or renew their DACA due to a lack of financial resources. For that reason, Google is getting involved.

“We want to do our part, so Google.org is making a $250,000 grant to United We Dream to cover the DACA application fees of over 500 Dreamers,” writes Walker. “This grant builds on over $35 million in support that Google.org and Google employees have contributed over the years to support immigrants and refugees worldwide, including more than $1 million from Googlers and Google.org specifically supporting DACA and domestic immigration efforts through employee giving campaigns led by HOLA (Google’s Latino Employee Resource Group).”

People are celebrating Google for their decision but are calling on Congress to do more.

Congress will ultimately have to decide on what to do for the Dreamers. There has been growing pressure from both sides of the aisle calling on Congress to work towards granting them citizenship. DACA is a risk of being dismantled at any moment. It is up to Congress to come through and deliver a bill to fix the issue once and for all.

“We know this is only a temporary solution. We need legislation that not only protects Dreamers, but also delivers other much-needed reforms,” writes Walker. “We will support efforts by the new Congress and incoming Administration to pass comprehensive immigration reform that improves employment-based visa programs that enhance American competitiveness, gives greater assurance to immigrant workers and employers, and promotes better and more humane immigration processing and border security practices.”

READ: New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

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Stephen And Ayesha Curry Are Donating Thousands of Books To Schools For Christmas

Entertainment

Stephen And Ayesha Curry Are Donating Thousands of Books To Schools For Christmas

Handout / Getty

Hark the herald! Stephen and Ayesha Claus Curry– are here to bring literary joy this season.

The Golden State Warrior and his wife are donating thousands of books to schools around Oakland, California this holiday season in an effort to bring joy to children.

The couple, behind Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation, made the announcement earlier this week.

“We along with our entire team at Eat. Learn. Play. understand the importance of early childhood education, especially when it comes to literacy,” Stephen and Ayesha told People magazine in a recent interview. “Nothing is more basic, more essential, more foundational, or more important to a child’s success in life than the ability to read well. We know there is a lot of work to be done, but with partners like Literati, we’re hopeful that we will be able to make an impact on these children’s lives.”

The Currys’ donations will arrive to schools in boxes that will contain six books.

The packages will include five children’s books and one for adults. All of which come from Stephen Curry’s “Underrated” book club selection.

Along with their thousand book giveaway, the couple’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation will donate boxes to students who are learning remotely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in collaboration with and Literati. Fourteen thousand boxes will go directly to Oakland Unified Schools.

According to people, “The remainder of the donation, which was also made possible through Bay Area investor Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures, will be distributed through community partners in the new year.”

Speaking about their own experiences of teaching their children during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Stephen and Ayesha (who are parents to Canon W. Jack, 2, Ryan Carson, 5, and Riley, 8) told People that they’ve been hard work attempting to keep their children busy and learning.

“My oldest is pretty disciplined so that’s been easy, but our 5-year-old has a little trouble staying engaged for an extended period of time,” Ayesha, host of ABC’s new show “Family Food Fight,” explained.

Ayesha says she has found that taking part in “some kind of physical activity right before class starts” helps her daughter Ryan “to focus the mind and get some of the wiggles out, and periodic ‘dance breaks’ between lessons.”

“We also added resistance workout bands to the legs of her chair, which give her something to do if she gets antsy during a long Zoom session,” Stephen added.

“Luckily for me, Stephen has really stepped in with education and their schooling. And I’m okay with that because I birthed them so now [he] can birth and nurture their education,” Ayesha joked in a recent episode of “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”

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