Dreamer Fund Sponsors DACA Gala

The University of Central Oklahoma’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival/Undocumented Students Task Force will be hosting the Dream Without Limits Gala on Oct. 27 at El Fandango Event Center to benefit the UCO Dreamer Scholarship Fund.

“We are expecting over 150 individuals for the gala and have secured approximately 15 sponsors,” said Liliana Renteria Mendoza, director for Cultural Outreach and Diversity Strategies for the Office of Global and Cultural Competencies.

The gala will include a meal, silent auction, music and student speakers, including UCO alumni and current students telling their personal stories.

The idea of the Dream Without Limits Gala was emerged from the DACA/Undocumented Students Task Force. The committee plans to raise between $5,000 to $10,000 at the gala and Renteria said they hope that as the event grows, they can continue to increase the amount of funds raised for the scholarship fund.

The Dreamer Scholarship Fund was established in Spring 2018 as a result of the advocacy work of the DACA/Undocumented Students Task Force. The task force has been looking for ways to support DACA and undocumented students at UCO and they have created a website with links for external scholarships for both on- and off-campus students.

Mendoza, who also serves as the president for the Latino Faculty and Staff Association, is the chair of the Dream Without Limits gala planning committee.

“Our team is comprised of seven dedicated members: Dr. Guillermo Martinez, the sponsorship chair; Dr. Alyssa Provencio, the silent auction chair; Dr. Lindsey Churchill; Dr. David Macey; Dr. Iliana Rocha; Ms. Thalia Rodriguez; and myself,” Renteria said.

Mendoza also said that UCO supports the success of all students to include the DACA and undocumented students. The task force’s goal is to provide scholarships to help DACA and undocumented students succeed and graduate.

“I feel like it’s my responsibility to take my privilege as a United States citizen who is also the daughter of an immigrant to advocate for others who don’t have equality or equity because of something as arbitrary as what constitutes citizenship, thus privileges and opportunities and basic rights,” said Thalia Rodriguez, research assistant for Martinez. “I feel very fortunate to be working on this project, especially working toward establishing a fund that assists DACA and undocumented students to pay for college.”

One of the major partners for the gala is Ramiro Vasquez, the owner of La Oaxaqueña Bakery and the event center where they will be holding the gala. Renteria Mendoza said he has been a great community advocate for Dreamers.

“The greatest hardship for DACA and undocumented students is financial aid, as they do not qualify for federal or state aid,” Renteria Mendoza said. “Therefore, the task force worked with the UCO Foundation to establish the Dreamer Scholarship Fund.”

In the future, the committee will create a link for students to apply for the fund the committee raised. They are also planning to make this gala an annual event.

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