For Griselda Madrigal, college was a chance to make a difference and help others in a way that would always be remembered at Sonoma State University. This chance is the DREAMers Club.
Starting her fifth and last year at Sonoma State, Madrigal is the president of the DREAMers Club, a new on-campus organization that provides support and raises awareness for undocumented students.
“The main goal of the DREAMers Club is to be a support for undocumented students and, of course, their allies, because we can not just leave them out,” Madrigal said.
Born in a small town called Santa Rosa de Lima in Michoacán, Mexico, Madrigal migrated to the United States with her family when she was eight years old. She started her college education at Santa Rosa Junior College then transferred to Sonoma State to finish her Bachelors degree.
A McNair scholar, she is currently applying to several graduate schools for next fall and hopes to attend Claremont University to get her Masters and PhD in education.
The DREAMers Club began as an idea between Madrigal and friend Sairi Aragón last year. With 178 known undocumented students on campus, they saw a need and took the responsibility to provide a safe haven.
The name DREAMers being a political phrase named after the DREAM Act, which helps provide financial aid to undocumented students.
Aragon recently graduated from Sonoma State with the class of 2015 and just started her Masters in Mexican/American and Latino Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
“I believe Griselda saw a real need for a group where DREAMers were welcomed in a space where they felt safe and supported,” Aragon said. “The faculty and staff at SSU provided this environment and it’s only the beginning.”
Together they co-founded the club and managed to get it chartered last spring with the help of the club’s faculty advisor, Mariana Martinez. Madrigal was a student in Martinez’s CALS 403 class last spring and is also involved with her through the McNair Scholars Program.
“She has faced multiple challenges to get to this point in her life yet she has not derailed in reaching her sueños (dreams),” Martinez said. “To be honest, I always feel honored and humbled that she has allowed me to be part of her educational journey.”
Through the McNair Scholars Program, Madrigal has been able to actively research the topic of undocumented students in the U.S. She had the opportunity to present her research at SCURF (Society Culture Undergraduate Research Forum) last year and the MALCS (Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social) Conference at the University of New Mexico last summer.
She was also on the committee to help organize the visit of the parents and students of Ayotzinapa, Mexico last semester and has gained the support of Sonoma State University President Ruben Armiñana through her great achievements.
As the first president of the DREAMers club, Madrigal has already taken steps to leave the organization well-known on campus when she graduates in the spring. Club member and Sonoma State senior Emily Crawford said, “The club would not be as strong without Griselda as our leader, already this year we have been able to do great things by hosting the DREAMers Conference.”
The first DREAMers conference was held on Sept. 19 and was a success with many attendees including President Armiñana and acclaimed guest speaker, Iliana Perez. Perez is a Claremont doctoral student and an advocate for raising awareness and helping students who do not have legal status receive financial aid.
The most memorable part of the conference for Madrigal was the surprise announcement from President Armiñana that by this time next year Sonoma State will have a DREAM Center on campus. A DREAM Center is a building that houses multiple resources for undocumented students for help with housing, financial aid and anything they might find difficult because of their legal status.
“I think it will be helpful to just have a safe space,” Madrigal said. When asked for her goals as the first DREAMers president this coming year Madrigal said, “I just wish there was more awareness of what it means to be a DREAMer, what it means to be undocumented and especially what it means to be undocumented in higher education.”
The DREAMers club is always open to new members. They meet Mondays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in The HUB.