Two weeks ago, this semester’s cohort of new TheDream.US scholars were welcomed to Marymount University virtually via Zoom by President Irma Becerra, Provost Hesham El-Rewini and Scholar Advisor Jennifer Crystle from the Center for Global Education.
Marymount’s inaugural cohort in Fall 2019 was composed of six students. This year, however, there are 19 new scholars joining the ranks – more than tripling the growth in cohort size, and bringing the total of TheDream.US scholars on campus to 25. As Dreamers across the country still wait for permanent legal protections and face continued anxiety from the current administration’s efforts to end or restrict access to the DACA program, University leaders are reaffirming their support for these vulnerable students and stressing that Marymount will always be their home.
“Through our acceptance of Dreamer scholars, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting students who have escaped terrible violence and poverty in their birth countries, who suffered horrible conditions in detention centers and who struggled to find a path forward to higher education,” Dr. Becerra told students during the virtual welcome. “Here at Marymount, we are doing all we can to support your dreams and educational pursuits – because you make our University, and the United States, a better place.”
The new cohort consists of 16 first year students and three community college graduates who are currently in their junior year. They are studying a variety of different disciplines that include Nursing, Business, Politics, IT, Mathematics, Fashion Design, Biology and Criminal Justice.
“You all continue to amaze and inspire all of us,” Crystle explained. “You have overcome obstacles that many other students have never faced, you have advocated for yourself and sought out mentors and you have met all of these challenges even in the middle of a global pandemic.”
Over the summer, the Center for Global Education made efforts to engage with TheDream.US scholars virtually with a “Lunch and Learn” series. This included drop-in sessions to help these students prepare for their transition to Marymount, with topics focusing on course planning, answering financial questions, campus life and engagement, mental health and managing stress.
“During your time here at Marymount, we want you to know that we are your family. We will be here to support you, lift you up and advocate for you,” Crystle added. “We care about each and every one of you, and we are committed to helping you be successful during your time at Marymount and beyond.”
In early 2019, Marymount announced its groundbreaking partnership with TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for Dreamers. The organization has provided more than 6,500 scholarships to Dreamers at more than 70 partner colleges in 16 states and Washington, D.C., since its founding.
In addition, Marymount has a thriving relationship with The Dream Project, a Virginia-based nonprofit that awards scholarships to talented immigrant students who demonstrate academic achievement, leadership, community involvement and perseverance in the face of adversity. Twelve Marymount students were recently awarded a Dream Project Scholarship for the upcoming academic year.
Marymount has also created its own internal Dreamer Scholarship Program in order to take another step towards increasing the affordability of higher education for underserved students. This was announced in a December 2019 event featuring U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who has long advocated for protections and pathways to higher education for Dreamers.