PharmSci DREAM Mentor, Diana Carreno Talks About the Importance of the DREAM Scholars Program

“Will I be here tomorrow? Will I be in this country tomorrow?” asks Diana Carreno. “Will I be here the next day or the day after that?”

Pharmaceutical sciences PhD student Diana Carreno is no stranger to the the struggles of undocumented immigrants. A DREAM Mentor for UCI’s DREAM Scholars program dedicated to assisting undocumented students, she is familiar with the struggles of undocumented immigrants striving for educational success. While the DREAM Scholars program offers various opportunities such as scholarships, the availability of such opportunities was not always the case. In fact, when she was an undergraduate, there was only the AB 450 government form – which allowed you to be charged the in-state tuition rate, given that you were enrolled in a minimum number of units – and there were almost no other resources geared towards undocumented immigrants themselves. 

Thanks to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), resources for undocumented students have continued to expand. UCI, Carreno notes, is a universities that offers resources specifically dedicated to undocumented immigrants. Through the DREAM Center, students can talk to social workers, a dedicated immigration lawyer, and counselors about their struggles. For Carreno, DACA gave her a clearer path to success.

“DACA provided the means of applying for a job… allowed me to seek opportunities [and] mentors for career options,” she recalls. Thanks to DACA, she did not have to worry about how her legal status as a citizen would limit her career aspirations. 

Recently, the future of the DACA program hung in the balance of the Supreme Court. With a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court successfully blocked the proposed end to the program.  For now, DACA remains in place, as do resources to help undocumented students such as campus social workers alongside mentors and counselors. 

Carreno hopes to educate undocumented students further about the complexities about the legal system so they can understand what resources they have available to them through workshops at the DREAM Center. While the future is unknown, what is certain is Diana’s  dedication to helping her fellow students surpass and succeed any and all expectations.

To learn more about the Dream Scholars Program click here.

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