Cristina Jimenez Moreta’s Fight For Immigrants Just Won Her A $625,000 ‘Genius’ Grant
Every year, the MacArthur Foundation hands out a $625,000 “no-strings-attached” award to creative geniuses in various fields. Academics, engineers, activists, writers, and musicians have all won the award, including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Sandra Cisneros.
There’s no application for the MacArthur fellowship, so the recipients often have no idea that they’re being considered. According to the MacArthur Foundation website, this is the criteria for selecting the fellows:
- Exceptional creativity.
- Promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments.
- Potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.
Cecilia A. Conrad, a managing director of the foundation and the leader of the fellows program, told The New York Times that the whole point of handing out this money to great minds is to inspire others to do amazing work.
The 24 winners of 2017 MacArthur Foundation fellowship were announced yesterday and Cristina Jiménez Moreta was one of the winners.
Cristina Jiménez Moreta is one of the MacArthur Fellowship winners that won $625,000.
The 33-year-old told The Washington Post that she could not believe the news. She was informed weeks ago but had to keep it a secret until the news was formally announced.
“I felt like it just took me a few minutes to believe — is this really happening?” Moreta tells The Washington Post. “For me, this recognition is a recognition of the lives of undocumented people, of the work that we have been doing to advocate and create change.”
Moreta, the co-founder of United We Dream, was recognized for her work as an immigration rights activist.
Founded in 2008, United We Dream is a national youth-led organization that fights for the fair treatment of immigrants, regardless of immigration status.
Moreta knows the struggles that immigrants face very well. She came to the U.S. from Ecuador as an undocumented immigrant when she was 13.
According to the MacArthur Foundation, Moreta was chosen for “changing public perceptions of immigrant youth and playing a critical role in shaping the debate around immigration policy.”
After winners were announced, Moreta posted this lovely message on her Facebook, thanking her parents for their hard work.
She writes: “To my family and community, you have been with me and United We Dream throughout the years. Thank you for your love and support. I’m humbled to have received the FDR’s Freedom from Fear Medal from the Roosevelt Institute and have been selected as a MacArthur fellow by the MacArthur Foundation. I could only think of my parents as I received the news of this award. It was my mother and father who heroically risked everything to come to the United States from Ecuador seeking a better life for my family.
This award celebrates the resilience and strength of my parents and and of all immigrants who’ve defeated the odds to make the United States their home. As a proud immigrant woman of color, I ask the country to see me, see my brother, my parents, and the generations of immigrants who’ve come before. This recognition symbolizes the pathways we take to survive and thrive.”
Moreta says this award isn’t just about fighting Donald Trump’s racist politics but about recognizing what immigrants have to offer this country.
“Regardless of what Trump or anyone has to say, this award recognizes our courage, our sacrifices of the community, our humanity, and that this is our home,” Moreta told ThinkProgress. “This award and this journey really reflects that community [of undocumented immigrants] and the power and courage that comes with it when you’re dreaming together of what you want to achieve.”
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