SWFL Scholarship Opportunity Now Open for Undocumented Students

March 2nd, 2015 

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The Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project is releasing the first ever scholarship fund for undocumented students in Southwest Florida (Collier and Lee Counties). We are excited to offer one qualifying community member a $500 scholarship to go toward their future or current educational prospects. This opportunity was made possible by the generous donation by the Luque Law Firm, P.A. For more information on this firm, please scroll below.

You can download the application here 

OVERVIEW

The Launchpad Fund knows that financial assistance for undocumented community members seeking educational opportunities is extremely limited. Because of this, we believe that by helping our community with financial support, dreams that were once unattainable become possible. We believe in our namesake: providing a Launchpad for individuals to reach their dreams. 

REQUIREMENTS

One $500 scholarship is available for a community member who meets all of the following requirements:

  1. Reside in Collier or Lee counties
  2. Do not have legal status in the country (i.e. Permanent residency or U.S. citizenship) or have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protective Status (TPS); ***
  3. Demonstrate financial need*
  4. Are currently a high school senior, obtained a high school diploma or GED equivalent;
  5. Are attending or seeking to attend:**
  • a community college;
  • a four-year university; or
  • a trade/vocational/technical school
  1. Have obtained a 2.5 GPA
  2. Have one letter of recommendation*
  3. Commit to working with the Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project*
  4. Submit a personal statement/submission*

Applications should be sent to:

Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project

P.O. Box 62071

Fort Myers, FL 33906

postmarked by May 22nd, 2015. We are NOT accepting electronic applications. Semi-finalists will be contacted for a final interview and the finalist will be notified by late June 2015. Questions regarding the application can be emailed to launchpad@collierstoriesmatter.org

*These topics are discussed in detail in the next page **If in high school, send us a copy of an unofficial transcript. If you have graduated, send us a copy of your high school diploma or your GED certificate. Please do not send us originals. Only copies. ***Send us a copy (not an original) of your DACA/TPS approval notice.


OUR CONTRIBUTOR 

Luque law firm logoThe Luque Law Firm, P.A.

Immigration Attorney

Erica Luque, Esq. – Managing Partner

5037 Tamiami Trail East

Naples, Florida 34113

(239) 986-1196

www.luquelawfirm.com

Art for Dignity and Justice

I had the great privilege to create a piece on behalf of the Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project for the October 5th National Day of Action March for Dignity and Justice! The piece is currently featured on Culture Strike and Not1MoreDeportation. We, as CCNSP, are very humbled to be able be part of such a pivotal moment for our communities and we will continue demanding dignity and justice for as long as it takes! We hope to see you all out on October 5th, too!

Feel free to share the graphic widely through your social networks! Please, credit Rommy Torrico and link back to collierstoriesmatter.org or blog.collierstoriesmatter.org. We hope to get prints soon so if you’re interested, feel free to email us with your name and the quantity so that we have an idea of how many we will need to order. Send all inquires to rommy@collierstoriesmatter.org

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Also featured on Not1MoreDeportation is our Paletero piece! We will have 5×8 postcards available on donation at our trainings, events and online. Keep a look out!

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62468_4548416756365_1751348120_nMy name is Rommy Torrico and I am the proud undocumented daughter of two amazing immigrants.

We came to this country on July 16, 1994 with dreams; with a vision of what we would do and what our lives could be like. I remember the first time I ever stepped foot here was at the Miami International Airport. A surge or excitement pulsed through me but mostly I was sleepy because we arrived late at night. However, that didn’t take away from the fact that this was the land of dreams. I remember sitting on my father’s lap, my head cradled in the nook of his neck as we waited for someone to come pick us up. At some point before nodding off, I looked down to see two huge suitcases. They were green, looked brand new and carried a treasure inside. Everything from our past life was in there. As far as I knew at my ripe 5 years, my whole world was in there. What I didn’t know was that my world was about to get bigger.

We’ve carried on these past 19 years still in search of the dreams we came to find. We realized that things here were very different than we had expected. Being undocumented created a world full of limitations and uncertainty that we hadn’t prepared for. Yet, we’ve made it through. Struggle after struggle, we’ve had the privilege and good fortune to stay afloat. And here we are, 19 years later… my father is now a legal permanent resident, my mother is in the process of adjusting her status, my sister is a naturalized citizen and I have temporary relief through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

It’s been quite a journey that life has taken us on. My parents have been put to the test time after time and have had to make immense sacrifices along the way. One of the hardest sacrifices and one of things I believe my father most regrets most was not being able to see his mother before she passed because his status wouldn’t allow him to leave and return. After that, he promised himself that he would visit as soon as he got the chance.

And that opportunity came on September 12, 2013. My father took his first trip back to Chile to visit a family that hadn’t seen him in almost 20 years and to visit his mother’s resting place.

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When my mother, my sister and I went to drop him off at the airport, the same airport we had arrived at almost 20 years ago, all the memories of our arrival came flooding back. Things at the airport looked different, smelled different but it all felt the same. That same rush of excitement rushed through us and most importantly, we were all there together as we had been back in 1994. As my dad went through his last checkpoint, I noticed for the first time the suitcases he was pulling along were the same ones I remembered during my first time in that same airport. They were green as ever, looking brand new but this time they were holding a new treasure inside; a testament to our strength as a family. Our life was changing once again and now we’re ready for anything. We’ve come full circle.

In an attempt to honor my father’s sacrifice and those fathers like mine, whose only desires are to protect and support their families, I have created a short film of the 24 hours leading up to his big trip to Chile.

I humbly submit this request to you to please watch this video, which demonstrates a small vignette of our lives and that of my parents. We acknowledge our privilege in this new world of mixed statuses and “documentation”; and this is why I want to continue fighting: because our reality shouldn’t revolve around pieces of paper.

We are human. 

The competition will allow our local work to continue as I will donate part of the proceeds to CCNSP and the rest to my parents.

Please share our video and share the stories-the real stories-of what it means to be human without papers.

CommUnity Portrait Project

There is a fountain of strength and power within our stories and our communities that we must not forget. These are some of the many faces of the struggle against immigration enforcement in SW Florida. El pueblo presente, el poder se siente!

*All photographs are part of the Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project. Credit to Rommy Torrico.

The DREAMer Manual: A Guide for Surviving the Swamp [FREE DOWNLOAD]

By Rommy Torrico 

After several months in the making, the DREAMers Manual: Surviving the Swamp is finally done! We had a fantastic team helping in the process and great support from sponsoring organizations. We hope that this manual, written by undocumented students for undocumented students, will serve as a foundation for other undocumented students at the University of Florida and around the state to build upon. There is so much more ground to be covered, this is just the beginning!

From the Authors

In 2007, when Raul and I were seniors in high school and had just been accepted into the University of Florida, being “undocumented” was almost unheard of. The term “illegal” took precedent and the lack of understanding and resources for students in our situation meant that we had fewer opportunities and bleak outlooks for the future. We were scared, worried, and faced an arduous journey into college without direction. We didn’t know if our immigration status would hinder our success or what obstacles we would face once we got here. We felt alone and powerless.

The world has changed since then. We helped change it and in turn, time has changed us. We have learned so much in the past six years and we stand here now, proudly knowing that nothing measures how well you succeed except your personal strengths, drive and determination. At the end of the day, your status is nothing but a label. You will always have the power to define yourself and no one can take that away.

As undergrads, we knew that our present and our future were full of circumstances out of our control, but if we could just equip ourselves with the knowledge and resources to make it through college, we knew we would be ready to take on the world. All of what we learned through our experiences is what we are offering in this guide. During times when we were desperately seeking answers and control of our lives, it would have been nice to have a friend to orient us. It is our hope that what students get from this will help them overcome those obstacles and help them make the best of their time at the University of Florida. From dealing with financial aid frustrations and learning about DACA benefits, to learning how to simply survive in Gainesville as a young college student, this guide’s sole purpose is to make life easier. Share, copy or forward this guide to the masses because there are thousands of us out there.

The DREAMer Manual: A Guide for Surviving the Swamp 

The days of being undocumented and hiding in the shadows are numbered.  It’s time to acknowledge our amazing potential and have the confidence to do great things. We’ve been putting in the work, sweat, effort, and tears for years and now the world knows that we are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

You can also go to the UF Multicultural Affairs Website here for more information

Nestor, one of our members and DACA eligible student, gets his Driver’s License!

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Nestor just got his license after qualifying for Deferred Action this past year! Help us in congratulating him!

Note: Please note that if you are a DACA eligible young individual, you can still obtain your driver’s license even with Governor Scott’s veto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have questions about this, please let us know at info@collierstoriesmatter.org. You can also find more information about obtaining a driver’s licenses in Florida as a deferred action recipient here

Read more about his story in today’s Naples Daily News article: Edison State_6_23_13