Marymount celebrates announcement of new scholarship program for DREAMer students

Taking another step to increase the affordability of higher education for underserved students, Marymount University has announced the creation of a new scholarship opportunity for DREAMers.

The scholarship program’s launch was celebrated Tuesday night with a kickoff event on campus in the Main House, hosted by Marymount’s President, Dr. Irma Becerra. Making special guest appearances were U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and Va. Sen. Barbara Favola, both of whom have advocated for protections and pathways to higher education for DREAMers.

“DREAMer students are highly motivated and eager to face the many obstacles and challenges that present themselves on the journey to a college degree,” Dr. Becerra said. “These students make Marymount, and the United States, a better place. We should do all we can to support their dreams and educational pursuits.”

Earlier this year, Marymount began a partnership with TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for DREAMers. It enables incoming Marymount DREAMers to apply for the organization’s national scholarship, which carries a value of up to $29,000 for first-year students and up to $15,000 for transfer students to be applied towards their remaining time at the university. Six students at Marymount are recipients of TheDream.US national scholarship.

Currently, about 50 students at Marymount are DACA recipients. The new, university-based scholarship seeks to ease the financial burden for a greater number of these students who are not eligible for federal financial aid. Fundraising efforts for Marymount’s DREAMer scholarship program are now underway.

“Marymount is a special place,” Sen. Kaine said. “Marymount is recognized as one of the most diverse universities in the South. It’s no surprise that Marymount would be one of the few universities in the country recognized for its support of DREAMers. Diversity is a value here and the support for DREAMers is very admirable. This has been a commitment that Marymount has had for a while.”

Marymount freshman Ashly Trejo Mejia, a DREAMer and a recipient of TheDream.US scholarship, introduced Sen. Kaine at Tuesday’s event. Mejia came to the U.S. when she was about four years old, as her family attempted to escape the poverty and violence in her home country of Honduras. She recalled her college application process as “stressful” and “terrifying,” and remembers how many colleges didn’t “have any more resources” for her.

“A dream that was so close just seemed further away,” Mejia recalled. “It felt like there was no way out.”

However, receiving the national scholarship and getting connected to Marymount opened up the possibility for higher education. A biology major, Mejia hopes to attend medical school and later practice in clinics located in low-income areas, as well as provide medical assistance to citizens in her home country.

“Marymount was one of those hidden treasures that I, and the rest of us, did not know we had here waiting for us,” Mejia added. “The day of my high school graduation was one of the most emotional days of my life. I was achieving something that our family members longed for. Coming to Marymount has been a blessing. We love this country and are willing to fight to get the opportunity to stay and live out the American Dream.”

For more information on how to support the DREAMers scholarship at Marymount, please contact the University Advancement Office at 703-284-1647.