yesenia FOR SENATE
Hello y’all my name is Yesenia Solis I come from Avenal Ca. I am an undocumented student spring admit. I am second year Legal studies major with a minor in education. I came to the US when I was 6 and I remember that day very clearly. When I was twelve I realize that being an undocumented person in this nation was harder than I thought when I saw my uncle get deported. I hid my undocumented identity for a while until I was fed up of having to hide. I wasn't ashamed of who I was . I realize there was the need to have some representation in one why or other. Now I am at Uc Berkeley running to represent the Undocumented Student Community.
When I got into Berkeley I was so excited to finally be in my dream school as a spring admit and undocumented student. I thought coming here would give me a sense of happiness because I would’ve felt like home. However I was wrong. I dealt with depression my first semester I really felt like I had no one. My academics were not at there best and I really didn’t know why I felt like I was so alone in a big university as Berkeley. Then I realize that I didn’t felt welcome , I realize there wasn’t enough people who related to me. Yet I didn’t understand why I was dealing with this issue. I also recalled when there was rumors of ice being on campus and although I hold the privilege of DACA this was so scary for me. That’s when I realize that I couldn’t image how the other students who were in the same boat as me felt. Then as my next semester came I met more people who were undocumented and realize that this university really lacked some aspect to support us and unite us. Therefore one day I spoke about this to a great friend of mine (Teddy) and she explain to me how I can be a representation of change. So therefore not only I am here wanting to represent my undocumented community on campus by running for Asuc Senator but I also representing my mom, my dad and sister.
My objects are to help ensure that we unite as community and that we can improve the resources we have. My platforms consist of increasing resources for Undocu students, Collaborate with Undocumented Student Center, and create and Undocumented Alumni Network.
“titles for identification purposes only”
Increase Resources for Undocumented Students
Mental Health Resources
Most of us are low-income first-generation students who are doing this all on our own. Stress and anxiety are things we live with as undocumented students. We live in constant fear of one day getting deported. Even DACA students fear this because of the current political climate. We have to deal with signs on Sproul that say “Illegal Aliens”, and for me, it’s very triggering. It makes us feel as if we aren’t human. I get anxious and start to worry “will they know that I’m undocumented?” This can have severe consequences on our mental health. Undocumented students currently have one mental health counselor, but I would like to work on creating an undocumented student support group, directed by one of the undocu mental health counselors. Talking with each other about our experiences and our traumas can help us heal, and for those that aren’t comfortable being in a one-on-one setting with a counselor, this can be their way of seeking help. I would also like to hold photo campaigns and events celebrating the strength and resiliency of undocumented folks as a way to proactively address mental health. For this I will work closely with student organizations and the undocumented student program to promote and establish this ideas.
Financial Aid Resources
Increasing financial aid resources for the undocumented student population is essential for us to thrive in the university. Not having money to pay for tuition or food distracts us from performing well academically. I hope to expand the RISE scholarship and make it more flexible for students. I want to more students to benefit from this scholarship. To do this, I hope to work with the call center to obtain funding from alumni for this scholarship and others. I also plan on applying for grants from the AAVP office and CACSSF to obtain funding for scholarships.
The Undocumented Student Program provides academic counseling for undocumented students, but in my experience, the counseling isn’t enough. Many of us learned English as our second language. Many of us work jobs on top of our coursework and extracurriculars to pay our rent and groceries and need extra support. First and foremost, I want to work with the Undocumented Student Program to improve academic counseling. I also want to work with the Student Learning Center to support the undocumented student program with academic advising. I want to work with the SLC to have a tutor dedicated to working with undocumented students.
Collaboration with the Undocumented Student Center
Thanks to the hard work of the undocumented student community on campus, the university will be expanding the undocumented student center. This will provide a safe space where undocumented students can study, go for resources, counseling etc. I hope to collaborate with the undocumented student center to hold workshops and community events in this space. I hope to organize workshops/panels that address mental health, financial aid and financial literacy, DACA, internship/job/graduate school preparation, and more. I hope to work with student organizations to hold events aimed at fostering community.
Create an Undocumented Alumni Network
Most undocumented students are the first in their family to go to college. Personally, my parents have an 8th grade education and I am the oldest in my family. I didn’t know what to expect when coming to college. As first generation students, we are at a disadvantage. And as undocumented students, this university is even harder to navigate. In order to better prepare undocumented students for college and life after college, I want to establish an undocumented alumni network. Connecting undocumented students with undocumented alumni will better help students to navigate college life, apply for jobs, and much more. To achieve this I will work closely with the career center, the Undocumented Student Program, and undocumented student organizations to create a support system for undocumented students.