Things That Matter

Fresno State Knows How To Throw A Fiesta With California’s Largest Latino Commencement Ceremony

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Fresno State’s graduation, Saturday at the Save Mart Center, was the largest class in the school’s history with more than 6,200 students meeting requirements.

But it’s the school’s Chicano and Latino Commencement Celebration that really is making headlines. It’s the largest event of its kind in California.

Credit: @Fresno_State

The community came out to represent and represent they did. It was the largest group the university has ever seen in 43 years of hosting the event.

Si se pudo!

This year, nearly 1,200 Latinos crossed the finish line and because it was so full there were nearly 100 more on a waiting list!

Credit: @MLemus25

Seriously, people were waiting outside in the rain because the Save Mart Center, where the ceremony was held, had reached capacity.

Nearly half an hour into the ceremony, event organizers had to ask people to stop saving seats because family and friends were stuck outside in the rain trying to get in.

In an interview with the Fresno Bee, University First Lady Mary Castro referred to the huge attendance as “Bruno Mars numbers.”

Now that is serious graduation goals.

The commencement ceremony was a pure reflection and celebration of the Chicano and Latino identity.

Credit: @DanzantesAztlan / Twitter

The graduates and their families were serenaded by Mariachi Fresno State which played all the classics, including ‘Marcha de Zacatecas, and the traditional Mexican farewell song ‘Las Golondrinas.’

Then there was a 20-minute performance by Los Danzantes de Aztlan.

Many graduates took to Twitter to express their Latino pride and share their stories of struggle and success.

Credit: @Yaacckiiee / Twitter

Many in this year’s graduating class were the first of their family to graduate from college. Others expressed how much pride and gratitude they had for their families, friends, even dogs, who all came together to help contribute to their success.

Some were just grateful for how much pride Fresno State takes in its Chicano and Latino-identifying students.

Credit: @_topaaaz / Twitter

Like for real though, this is the biggest event of its kind in California and according to organizers possibly in the entire country. That deserves some serious respect.

Others took to Twitter to remind us that even at commencement ceremonies, we still know how to do great chisme.

Credit: @alphxlys / Twitter

Like shoutout to this señora for keeping it real.

And then there was this girl who’s novio just may win for best graduation gift. Ever.

Novios and novias take note: this is how you do graduation gifts.

READ: Her Parents Worked In Fields For 25 Years To Give Her The Opportunity To Go To College, So She Honored Their Sacrifices With This Graduation Photoshoot

Arizona’s Republican Governor Applauds New Rule Giving DACA Students Discount On College Tuition

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Arizona’s Republican Governor Applauds New Rule Giving DACA Students Discount On College Tuition

Governor Doug Ducey / Facebook

Republican Governor Doug Ducey took an unprecedented stance this week when he applauded the decision to offer a discount to Arizona’s undocumented students. Last Thursday, the Arizona Board of Regents voted 8-0 to cut the tuition cost for DACA students. 

In 2018, the Arizona Supreme Court had reversed in-state tuition eligibility for DACA students, which put graduation in jeopardy and education on hold for many. This was a huge set back from the 2015 victory, which came after almost a decade of fighting for in-state eligibility.

The cost to attend Arizona universities and/or colleges is estimated at around $11,00 for students with citizenship documentation. Students without documentation were required to pay out-of-state tuition which is around $30,000. Now, with the discounted rate, tuition for undocumented students will come down to around $16,000. This is still more than in-state tuition, but it does make the dream of obtaining a higher education, that is much closer for thousands of students.

Students in Arizona have shown their support for fair tuition for DACA students.

Credit: @TucsonStar / Twitter

In a recent interview with KJZZ, Governor Ducey spoke at length on a range of topics, including immigration. He had stated in the past that he would support all measures of increased border security and yet has not signed any bills that would imply heavy added border measures.

“Well listen, I think somebody that graduates from an Arizona high school is an Arizona kid, and I want to see them have Arizona opportunities in front of them. So I congratulate the regents for the first step around this,” Governor Ducey told KJZZ. “But I do believe that if you are here and graduate from an Arizona high school, you should have the same opportunities that anyone else that graduates from Arizona high schools has.”

Gov. Ducey is celebrating the news that DACA student will receive lower tuition rates for college.

Governor Doug Ducey / AZgovernor.Gov

Democratic leaders are still watching him closely. One of Governor Ducey’s first bills signed into law was the requirement that all high school students must take and pass the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization civics citizenship test in order to graduate. 

Keep in mind fewer than 13 percent of average Americans could pass that 100-question exam. In order to fulfill the graduation requirement, you pass 60 out of 100. Arizona is the first to state to pass such a law.

Regardless of his latest praise, people are still wary of Gov. Ducey’s longterm goals.

Credit: Governor Doug Ducey / Facebook

On the subject of white supremacy, it’s a toss-up.  During this past 4th of July, Americans were divided on the Nike shoe issue. Some folks felt that it was unpatriotic for Nike to pull the plug on the Betsy Ross flag-inspired design, rallying being a white nationalist ideal, meanwhile, the majority of the rest of us, realized that this was a huge nod to the days of slavery and why hell would we celebrated that!?

Gov. Ducey’s own beliefs have caused some people to pause over the years.

Credit: @dougducey / Twitter

At the time, Nike was ready to open a new facility in Arizona but then the governor pulled the Nike incentive package, angry at the fact that Nike had canceled the distribution of the colonial- era flag sneaker, which they felt was racially charged and not in sync with Nike values.

Democrats called him out for supporting ideas that were in line with the racist right-wing side of the Republican party.

Credit: @RepRubenGallego / Twitter

Then, a week later, the Republican Governor flip-flopped and denied that he ever pulled the incentive packed. He welcomed the Nike manufacturing facility to Goodyear, Arizona. The new site is expected to create more than 500 full-time jobs. 

It is no secret that before the Trump administration, Arizona was known for creating some of the harshest anti-immigration laws in the nation.

Credit: azgov / Instagram

Under former Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer the controversial SB 1070, better known as the “show me your papers” law which opened the door to racial profiling by law enforcement, was passed. Brewer also signed into law HB 2281, banning Mexican-American studies, the law was later ruled to be racist and unconstitutional by a federal judge.

In 2014 Ducey – then the state’s treasurer and the former CEO of Stone Cold Creamery – threw his hat into the ring of politics, running against Governor Jan Brewer. He defeated her and then went on to also win his reelection in 2018.

During his two terms, Ducey has managed to stay out of the fray, from both sides of the political aisle.

Credit: Governor Doug Ducey  / Facebook

For the most part, he hasn’t passed any anti-immigration policies that are on the level of his predecessor, but this an election year and anything could change.

What does this all mean for Arizona? The jury is still out on that one. His campaign website says very little about immigration, sticking mostly to “border security” issues in regard to drug trafficking.

For many, the deciding factor will be whether-or-not the governor will show support for notorious ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio recently announced that he is running for the office of sheriff again despite his infamous tenure characterized by his unapologetic and inhumane treatment of inmates and racial targeting of Latinos. He described his outside tents as “concentration camps” where migrants were housed outside in the 120-degree Arizona heat. In his time as sheriff of Maricopa County, more than 120 people died in his jails, 24 percent of those from suicide.

In 2017, after an investigation had been conducted, he was tried and found guilty of criminal contempt by a federal judge, stemming from a racial profiling case. However, President Trump granted him a full presidential pardon.

We will be ready to fight that battle should it come, but for right now, let’s have a moment to celebrate for our undocumented brothers and sisters from Arizona, this is some much needed good news. A chance, a hope, to seek the next level of education and plan for the future.

READ: He Was Convicted Of Racial Profiling But Now America’s ‘Toughest Sheriff’ Is Running For His Old Job

Here Are The States Offering Undocumented Residents Access to Financial Aid For College

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Here Are The States Offering Undocumented Residents Access to Financial Aid For College

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According to the Pew Research Center, there are roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants that reside in the U.S. as of 2016, which includes about 700,000 people under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In total, the group represents 3.4 percent of the country’s total population. Undocumented students are a subset of this group and face various roadblocks due to their legal status, including obstacles that prevent them from receiving equal educational opportunities as U.S. citizens and legal U.S. residents. 

Most universities don’t offer in-state tuition to undocumented students and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) is not available for undocumented students either. For those who live in states that don’t offer in-state tuition, it means taking on huge loans and working multiple jobs to pay for tuition, or sometimes, foregoing college altogether.

Yet, there are a handful of states in the U.S. that are doing their part to help undocumented students receive some sort of financial assistance. Whether that’s legislation extending in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who meet specific requirements or receiving state financial aid, there is help. 

The following U.S. states allow undocumented students to receive state financial aid.

Credit: Nicole Honeywell / Unsplash

1. California

In California, there were 200,150 students that were participating in the DACA program as of August 2018, according to the Migration Policy Institute. This means that many of those students received some kind of financial assistance when it came to their education. State law (AB 540, AB 130, and AB 131) provides undocumented students with in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid. There are 23 campus options for the California State University system and 9 campus options of the University of California (UC).

The average cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,680

2. New Mexico

New Mexico is doing it’s part when it comes to helping undocumented students pursue higher education. The state offers in-state tuition and financial aid to undocumented students through SB 582. The state also has one of the lowest costs when it comes to in-state tuition and fees.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $6,920

3. Oregon

Back in April 2013, Oregon adopted a state policy, HB 2787, granting in-state tuition to undocumented students. This has opened up countless opportunities for many who are pursuing college. 

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $10,360 

4. Minnesota

Minnesota offers in-state tuition and state financial aid to undocumented students through the MN Dream Act. This includes over two dozen colleges and universities offer in-state tuition to all students, regardless of status, residence, or MN Dream Act eligibility.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $11,300

5. Texas

The Lone-Star State is certainly the biggest state in the country and is also one a huge resource when it comes to assisting aspiring colleges students. In Texas, undocumented students may qualify for Texas State Financial Aid. The state in 2001 became the first in the nation to allow undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition to public universities. They only need to have lived in Texas for the three years before they graduated from high school.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,840

6. Washington

Undocumented students are eligible to receive in-state tuition as of 2003 via HB 1079. In 2014, the state also enacted the Washington State DREAM Act into law, making undocumented students eligible for state financial aid.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,480

7. New Jersey

In 2013, New Jersey gave in-state tuition benefits to undocumented immigrants. Last year, undocumented students were finally able to apply for state financial aid after Gov. Phil Murphy signed bill NJ S 699 (18R) opening up state funds for undocumented immigrants going to college.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $13,870

The following states allow for in-state tuition rates for undocumented students 

(This includes the previous 6 mentioned states that allow undocumented students to receive state financial aid)
Credit: Charles DeLoye / Unsplash

1. Colorado

In 2013, state lawmakers in Colorado created SB 13-033 which allows undocumented children to follow their American dreams. They allowed them to pay the significantly cheaper in-state tuition to go to state colleges instead of higher out-of-state prices.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $10,800

2. Connecticut 

In 2011, the Connecticut General Assembly approved a law which offers undocumented students residing in Connecticut in-state tuition benefits at the state’s public colleges. HB 8644 not only allows for undocumented students to pay in-state tuition for college, but it also states that students only have to attend two years of high school in the state to be eligible.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $12,390 

3. Florida

Former Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 851 into law in 2014. The measure allows undocumented students who spent three consecutive years in a Florida high school and applied to an educational institution within 24 months of graduating to apply for and out-of-state tuition waiver.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $6,360 

4. Illinois

Undocumented students in Illinois are eligible for in-state tuition and private scholarships through Public Act 093-007 (In-State Tuition) and SB 2185 (Illinois DREAM Act). Students can also access the state’s Monetary Award Program, aka MAP grants.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $13,620

5. Kansas

In 2018, HB 2145 gave undocumented students in Kansas access to in-state tuition. To qualify, students must have attended a Kansas high school for three or more years.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,230 

6. Maryland

In Maryland, things are a bit different compared to other states when it comes to financial assistance. Undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition under SB 167, however, they must attend a community college before qualifying for in-state tuition at a public university.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,580

7. Nebraska

The state has provided in-state tuition to undocumented students for the last 13 years. LB 239 states that undocumented students must have attended high school for at least three years before graduating high school or receiving a GED.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $8,270

8. Utah

Utah gave undocumented students access to in-state tuition back in 2002. HB 144 states that people are eligible for in-state tuition if they attend high school in Utah for three or more years and must file or be willing to file when able an application for residency.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $6,790

9. New York

Through the Dream Act, undocumented students who meet the Tuition Assistance Program requirements, currently received access to state financial aid. Previously, New York had allowed all high school students who graduated from a New York high school an opportunity to receive in-state tuition at two local colleges, City University of New York (CUNY) and the State University of New York (SUNY).

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $7,940

10. Oklahoma

HB 1804 made it possible for undocumented students in the state can receive in-state tuition if they graduated from a private or public Oklahoma high school and were accepted to a school in Oklahoma’s state university system.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $8,460

11. Rhode Island

While it might be the smallest state in the country, it’s still doing its part to help undocumented college students by offering in-state tuition. The Board of Governors for Higher Education voted unanimously to give undocumented students in-state tuition if they graduated from a Rhode Island high school and sign an affidavit saying they will apply for legal residency when eligible.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $12,230

12. Virginia 

Virginia still has work to do but, currently, students on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are eligible for in-state tuition. However, there are people fighting to expand that benefit to all undocumented residents of the state.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $12,820

READ: This Latino College Grad Is Showing How To Persevere Against All Odds In the Face Of Ignorance And Racism