Things That Matter

Here’s How The New York Dream Act Will Help Undocumented Students Achieve Their Dreams

The New York Senate passed a breakthrough Dream Act bill that will assist thousands of undocumented immigrants to pursue higher education. New York’s state Senate passed the Dream Act, which will provide access to state college tuition aid to undocumented immigrants. The bill is the same in name as the federal measure that would give provisional green cards to undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children. New York’s version focuses on another issue in the national immigration debate: college tuition.

The Dream Act passed the New York Senate with a 40-20 vote in what is a historic moment for undocumented youth in the state of New York.

The bill, which passed the New York Assembly with a 90-37 vote, will allow New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, to qualify for scholarships and the New York State Tuition Assistance Program if they meet certain criteria.

Applicants must have done one of the following to qualify:

Graduated from a New York state high school they attended for at least two years;

Applied for college within five years of receiving a high school diploma;

Graduated from a certified high school equivalency program

Be otherwise eligible for in-state tuition.

The Dream Act quickly became a top priority for the state senate since New York Democrats control it for the first time in a decade. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has confirmed he will sign the measure into law.

The bill is expected to affect an estimated 146,000 young people who attended New York public schools but have been ineligible to receive financial aid under federal and state law, according to an analysis by the N.Y.U. Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic.

The bill represents a gateway to higher education that was previously an afterthought for the countless undocumented youth in New York.

Yatziri Tovar, a DREAMer and Make the Road New York activist, has spent the last few years advocating for the Dream Act bill. She acknowledges the significance of the bill and what it means to so many people in a state that were previously cut off from pursuing college due to financial reasons.

“Back when I was still in high school is when I started advocating for the bill and even during my entire time in college I was fighting for the bill to become reality,” Tovar said. “I was full of emotions and truly happy that future students will be able to not worry about finances because in college the anxiety and fears that you get because of money drive you crazy.”

Immigrant rights groups praised the legislative victory as a win for local organizing efforts at the state-wide level. Make the Road New York, an immigration rights organization, has been fighting for this bill since the start. The organization hopes this is just the start of more opportunities for undocumented people in the state.

Tovar says she has spoken with many high school students who now have clear intentions of applying to college thanks to the Dream Act. She says they are ecstatic to hear the news that money won’t get in the way of school anymore. “They’ve been fighting for this for years and our youth is fired up about this victory.”

Critics say the cost of the Dream Act is too high but supporters say the long-term financial benefit of educating immigrant students outweighs the costs.

Republican senators in the state criticized the bill questioning why it should pass for people that “are in this country illegally.” Another argument against it was the initial costs of the bill. Gov. Cuomo has included the measure in his state budget, in which he budgeted $27 million annually for it.

New York joins 15 other states in the U.S. that currently offer in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. While six states, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, and South Carolina, have intentionally banned similar measures.

“We must do everything we can at the state level to make it easier for immigrants, regardless of their status, to get an education that will empower them to better contribute to our communities across New York state,” state Democratic Sen. Robert Jackson told KGUN9.

What’s next for undocumented immigrants in New York?

The New York state legislature is now expected to take up more measures that will boost opportunities for those without lawful immigration status including drivers licenses. While talks are still early and there is expected to be Republican push back, immigrant rights groups are happy to see these measures being discussed.

Tovar says the Dream Act is first of many priorities for the undocumented community that includes gaining rights to a drivers license. She notes many undocumented people have been deported because they had no identification on them during traffic stops.

“The Dream Act was a huge victory for our youth but New York can do more,” Tovar says. “We are fighting for driving licenses because a simple traffic stop can lead to deportation and public transportation isn’t always available. We hope they can accomplish that this year.”

The passed bill is named The Jose Peralta New York Dream Act, after state Sen. Jose Peralta, who advocated for the bill for years before his death from cancer last year. His wife Evelyn, two kids, and his mother were in attendance to watch the bill pass.

“Today my husband’s dream becomes our reality,” Evelyn Peralta said after the vote. “To every immigrant hearing my words, we love you, we see you and we welcome you into our American family.”


READ: The Supreme Court Won’t Hear The DACA Case This Term Letting The Program Continue

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If You’ve Been Struggling with College During COVID, These Tips Might Help You Cope

Things That Matter

If You’ve Been Struggling with College During COVID, These Tips Might Help You Cope

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Covid-19 is changing the all-American college experience. There is no more late-night munchie runs at 3 a.m., house party hopping, or late-night cramming with friends in the library. The spirit has completely changed, but all for the greater good of keeping others healthy and safe.

Still, that doesn’t discredit the fact that we are losing the value of our education by it moving online. We’re no longer able to use the campus as a resource to help fuel ourselves academically or socially. We long for the day we are able to build a sense of community again.

Here’s how Covid has changed the college experience and what you can do to make it better.

The Move to Online

Credit: @gph/ Giphy

Being a college senior myself, remote learning has taken a huge toll on me. My days are lengthened with logging on to Zoom for everything, and yes- even my pair of blue-light glasses can’t keep me focused.

I find myself eagerly waiting for my professor to say “That’s it for today everyone,” and sometimes can only hang in there for half of the time. I’m constantly left feeling anxious and frustrated.

I was sure that universities would begin to understand how different students cope with a very tricky, unstable, and scary situation at hand. However, I’ve experienced the opposite. An overwhelming influx of papers, online assignments, and weekly quizzes quickly presented themselves. Not to mention more group projects. Weekends soon became “working-weekends” and with assignments piling up I truly felt like I was drowning.

It wasn’t long until I had to think for myself. How am I going to cope with the now? I needed to figure out the best plan I could to navigate something out of mine and everyone else’s control. If you too are struggling during this time whether it be financially, academically, emotionally, etc, please know you are not alone. Below are some resources that might help each day go by just a little better than the last, and hopefully give you peace of mind.

Finances:

COVID Emergency Assistance Funds

The last thing that we want to do is pay full price for online learning, especially during a pandemic. So check with your college or university about COVID Emergency Assistance/Relief Funds. This has greatly helped students access resources such as food, housing, course materials, technology, and affordable health care. In some cases, they even pay you to be at home. Additionally, FAFSA is allowing students to get even more aid granted despite if they were already given their semester disbursement- so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Visit your official college website & https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa for more information.

Scholarships

Trust me, we all could use a little help in this area. Luckily, Tuition Funding Sources’s (TFS) database connects students to monthly scholarships based on needs, wants, and qualifications. They have highlighted “scholarships of the day” as well as career aptitude tests that can help your search become even more personal.

Businesses are also partnering up right now to help students around the world get the support they need to further their education. The McDonald’s® HACER ® National Scholarship assists Latino students to be front and center and attain the education they deserve. In 2019, more than $500,000 was granted to 30 students in order to help finance tuition costs. And better yet, The 2020-2021 application period just opened October 5th.

For more information on how to apply for the listed scholarships, visit https://www.tuitionfundingsources.com  or https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/community/hacer.html .

Mental Health & Well-Being:

Headspace

This app is a lifesaver. From brief wellbeing exercises to longer guided meditation, Headspace is offering free downloadable tracks that can help you ease your mind at home or on-the-go anywhere and anytime. Tune in when you need a break or to re-center yourself.  

Visit https://www.headspace.com/covid-19 to see what tracks are available now.

Podcasts

Sometimes hearing someone speak and having an honest conversation about a certain topic is really fun to engage with. It provides us another perspective other than their are own, and it’s interesting to get a glimpse at the way other people live. Taking 30 minutes out of your day to listen to an episode can help ease some stress, reminding you that others are by your side who, too, have felt the same chaos.

For a great selection of podcasts, search Spotify or Apple Podcasts to start the search on some good series.

Be Patient with Yourself

Credit: @nbc/ Giphy

Remember, this pandemic is not forever although it might feel like it right now. Do not feel like you are responsible for the frustration you are undergoing. Take some time to care for yourself and take a step back from the craziness of the world to remind yourself that things will get better.

Talk to a friend, counselor, or therapist if you find yourself in a crisis more than you can bear. Crisis Text Line offers free, 24/7 service to anyone who needs some support and wants to speak with someone. What’s nice is you have the option to either call or text, depending on what’s most comfortable and effective for you. 

Visit https://www.crisistextline.org to get free 24/7 support whenever, wherever. 

Other Tips

Zoom Party

Credit: @snl / Giphy

Get-togethers are looking a lot different right now, but you can still plan an event that will keep all of your friends together. Zoom can be a wonderful platform not only for the classroom, but to catch up with everyone. Plan a “Whine Night” where you talk about all things life or vibe to shared music. Your university should give you an unlimited personal meeting room link so you don’t have to pay a dime for the time.

Virtual Social Hours

Many universities are offering virtual social hours so students can connect to each other and get more of a sense of community as we navigate through the days. Check online on your school’s website to see what types of activities they are offering students at this time, and what events might fit your personal or career interests.  You never know who you might meet!

Find Your Hobby 

Having a go-to hobby during this time can give you something to look forward to and be an escape from all the ongoing chaos. Look into things like surfing, socially distanced yoga classes, cooking, or hiking to get you feeling joyful and inspired. Try one thing out and see if you like it, and if not who says you can’t just move to the next thing? You’ll be surprised at what you discover will be your next “thing.”


The pandemic has definitely made college life and life, in general, a whole lot harder. Know that it is completely normal to feel mad, sad, scared, or anxious about what’s to come. With these tips, my only wish is that they help you cope just a bit more as they have for me. Together we will get through this, slowly but surely.

READ: A 13-Year-Old Student Just Became A California College’s Youngest Graduate

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This 12-Year-Old MENSA Member Is Starting His Sophomore Year of College But Stays Humble— ‘I Just Grasp Information Quickly’

Fierce

This 12-Year-Old MENSA Member Is Starting His Sophomore Year of College But Stays Humble— ‘I Just Grasp Information Quickly’

CBS

Twelve-year-old Caleb Anderson has a head on his shoulder that’s steering him towards a bright and brilliant future. Most kids Anderson’s age are diving headfirst into their 7th-grade year, he on the other hand is headed to college.

Back to college that is.

Anderson is currently enrolled at Chattahoochee Technical College as a sophomore.

From Marietta, Georgia, he’s on track to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in two years. Speaking to CBS News for an interview the pre-treen remains humble and chalks up his success to being quick.

“I’m not really smart,” Caleb explained in his interview with the outlet. “I just grasp information quickly. So, if I learn quicker, then I get ahead faster.”

When it comes to pursuing his education, Anderson has his eyes set on a greater prize than just earning his bachelor’s degree. The 12-year-old is intent on heading off to Georgia Institute of Technology or the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. He’s hoping to eventually wind up with an internship at Tesla working for SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

“When I was like 1, I always wanted to go to space,” Anderson said in a separate interview with USA Today. “I figured that aerospace engineering would be the best path.”

Just twelve and Anderson has made quite a few other accomplishments.

At just 9 months old he learned how to do American Sign Language began reading just a few months later. “I have this distinct memory of going to a first-grade class and learning there, and everyone was way taller than me, because, you know, I was 2,” he explained to USA Today. “I could barely walk!”

According to his interviews, Anderson began solving math equations by the time he reached his second birthday and qualified for MENSA at just 3 years old. MENSA is the largest and oldest high IQ society across the globe. The non-profit organization is open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized intelligence test. Members have included the likes of Geena Davis, Nolan Gould of “Modern Family,” and Joyce Carol Oates.

Explaining what it is like to raise a genius, Anderson’s father Kobi WKYC that he realized his kid was special when he began to speak to other parents.

“As we started to interact with other parents, and had other children, then we started to realize how exceptional this experience was because we had no other frame of reference,” Kobi explained. “He has far surpassed me in math, so I can’t help him anymore. Seriously! He’s in calculus two now!”

When it comes to her son, Anderson’s mother says that she hopes other parents see him as an example and that he inspires other Black children.

“I think people have a negative perspective when it comes to African-American boys,” she explained. “There are many other Calebs out there… African-American boys like him. From being a teacher — I really believe that. But they don’t have the opportunity or the resources.”

Check out Anderson’s interview below!

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