Cabrini University makes history with TheDream.US partnership

By Ethan Baker
October 10, 2022

People marching in a protest for DACA rights. Photo by Molly Adams.
People marching in a protest for DACA rights. Photo by Molly Adams.

Cabrini University made history this year as the first school in Pennsylvania to partner with TheDream.US Foundation. Undocumented individuals in the United States cannot receive federal aid to attend a college or university. TheDream.US helps solve that issue, providing over $141 million in scholarships in the past five years. 

Dr. Nune Grigoryan, an assistant professor in Cabrini’s communications department and the interim director of the Center on Immigration, is the foundation’s lead on-campus contact. While the Center on Immigration has expertise in policy changes and working with students who have different immigration statuses, they are not working alone. The Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, ODEIB, the Student Success Office, and Admissions are all working together to give TheDream.US Scholars equitable opportunities.  

Policies and regulations

Cabrini’s Dream.US team’s safe space stickers. Photo by Thomas Ryan.

Recently, the United States moved to stop accepting new DACA applications. This means that any TheDream.US scholars who do not already have DACA approval cannot legally work in the United States. Grigoryan said,Those who are DACA recipients should have a way to gain citizenship.”

Some students may be undocumented because they came to the country as an infant or young child. Grigoryan said, If we are not providing pathways to citizenship, we are eliminating pathways for growth in the country, it is very un-American.” 

Cabrini’s team

The recent change in leadership at Cabrini will not negatively affect any incoming TheDream.US Scholars. However, there is a huge positive impact: more people working to provide TheDream.US Scholars with equitable opportunities.   

The offices and individuals work tirelessly. Grigoryan said, “It feels empowering, knowing that there are allies; there are more and more institutions that want to serve this community.” Everyone is eager to help undocumented individuals because, Grigoryan explains, many undocumented scholars are already a part of the country.  

Many Dreamers attended primary and secondary school, yet when it comes to higher education, the federal government stops them.  Grigoryan said TheDream.US scholars need assistance and guidance to receive the lives they deserve. 

Dream.US Scholars

TheDream.US Scholars are unique, each having their own background with family, education, work, and hardship. The Dream U.S., for many, is the only light at the end of the tunnel.

A TheDream.US Scholar recipient, who wishes to remain anonymous, attended Montgomery County Community College while nurturing a 7-month-old baby. She came out of school with an associate’s degree and the news that she was pregnant again. Although she was already caring for two children and working at a young age, she still felt like she was missing something. She said, “I wanted more meaning.”

She saw a flyer, advertising TheDream.US. She had heard of the foundation before but never saw it as a part of her life plans. She researched TheDream.US and found that Cabrini University was, and still is, the only school in Pennsylvania that has a partnership with the foundation. However, she needed to be admitted to Cabrini to qualify for TheDream.US program.

After attending Cabrini’s spring open house in April 2022, she wasn’t worried about getting into Cabrini, but was concerned with her future, “without TheDream.US, I wouldn’t be able to afford college,” she said.

College graduate walking through campus. Photo by Stanley Morales via Pexels.

Soon after the open house, She was admitted to Cabrini University and accepted into TheDream.US program.

She is appreciative of Cabrini because “everyone’s so nice and welcoming.” She explained that it is almost like a breath of fresh air. She has faced hardship after hardship, so having a welcoming and safe environment means the world.

Another TheDream.US Scholar recipient, who wishes to remain anonymous, echoes the same feelings as the other recipient, noting that she “can’t be more thankful.”

She came to find TheDream.US because her high school advisor recommended it. She eventually decided to apply and she and her advisor filled out the application together.

TheDream.US’s office is far away and filled with unfamiliar people, making it difficult for scholarship recipients to reach out. “It feels like I can’t directly reach out to the foundation,” she said.

At Cabrini, she wishes there were “more ways for [people] to actively participate… it hits home when we can’t.” Having been denied so many opportunities because of her history, it was painful to not have all of them at Cabrini. However, she did express that she hopes the issue will improve with time.

Both DACA recipients are both incredibly thankful for the opportunities that Cabrini University and TheDream.US have given them, including a welcoming and safe space.

A safe space

Dr. Nune Grigoryan in an interview with Ethan Baker. Photo by Thomas Ryan.

Grigoryan is an Armenian immigrant to the United States, so she understands the necessity of having guidance and a safe space. The team working with TheDream.US created stickers to indicate a safe space. They can be found around campus, on professors’ doors, laptops, bags, and office doors.

The foundation is working with a group of amazing and talented individuals. We need to be welcoming. Our mission is a point of pride for us; we need to show that,” Grigoryan said.   

The team works hard to keep the identities of TheDream.US scholars confidential because they are vulnerable. Grigoryan asked that students and staff at Cabrini recognize that “we are diverse, and to try to use proper language when referring to and talking to everyone if you are not sure,” she said. “Ask people, ask with an open mind; be ready to accept what you hear.”  

Most importantly, for assistance, please visit the ODEIB or the Center on Immigration. 

Ethan Baker

Ethan Baker is a Digital Communication and Social Media major and a Spanish minor. He is from Southampton, Pennsylvania. Ethan is involved in many activities on campus such as theater, chromatix, admissions, and residence life. In the spring semester of 2022, Ethan was cast as Mr. Mushnik in Cabrini University's production of Little Shop of Horrors. He also won second place in the Phillip M. Cook one-act play festival in the spring of 2022. Ethan is looking forward to writing for the Loquiter this school year.

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