Norristown mentoring program helps undocumented students achieve goals

By Brianna Morrell
February 24, 2016

Many undocumented immigrants who have come into the United States face challenges every day to get the resources they need for a better life. Within high schools, undocumented students may not want to continue after they graduate. A program has been designed to help undocumented students get the resources they need to begin the college application process. This program has been started by the Spanish department and it helps students in the Norristown school district. The program helps students succeed in school and ultimately achieve their dreams of going to college.

But it was not always this easy for undocumented students to get a higher education, and to this day it still is not that easy.

According to an article from Diaz-Strong, there are over 65,000 immigrants who are undocumented in the United States, and 7,000-13,000 of them are unable to go off to get a higher education after high school. This brings up the challenges of finding a institution of higher education. Education in the United States is fairly expensive and much is covered when a student applies for financial aid. Undocumented students are not eligible for the federal aid, making college very pricey for them. Along with being unable to apply for financial aid to help pay for an education, many institutions and scholarships for undocumented students does not help cover most of the costs.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to get the aid and funds to attend school,” David Lopez, an undocumented student at Montgomery County Community College, said. And it would be nice to see campuses have staff who are trained or specialize in undocumented students and help us navigate through courses.”

Laura Sansom and Brittany Lambert mentor for the program every week. (Submitted by Brittany Lambert)
Laura Sansom and Brittany Lambert mentor for the program every week. (Submitted by Brittany Lambert)

In the next few years, Cabrini plans to open its doors to a more diverse community to make the campus rich with different ethnicities and cultures. Within the next six years, it is projected for the college to have at least a 25 percent diverse population on campus, with only 7.2 percent now, that is a drastic  change.

Dr. Raquel Green and Dr. Cynthia Halpern have been working hard with their ECG courses to help undocumented students get into college. They have started a mentoring program in 2009, right after the ECG series began in 2008. Cabrini Bridges Communities Latino Mentoring Program is a part of the four-year ECG series, Our Interconnected Hemisphere.

“Students who participate in this mentoring program are from South and Central America,”Halpern, chair of romance languages, said. “Cabrini mentors can earn Spanish credit since most of them are typically Spanish majors or minors.”

This program is linked with Norristown Area high school along with Eisenhower and Stewart middle schools.

Cabrini mentors have had many experiences with these students in Norristown. Laura Sansom, freshman digital communications major, has been lucky enough to work in this ECG program. With their experiences like no other, they feel as they both benefit from this program and helping other students.

“I am passionate about helping these students because I like to help people in general, but I have also developed personal relationships with some of the students and them to succeed,” Sansom said.

Brittany Lambert, freshman elementary education major, has also been in the mentoring program helping these students reach their goals.

“The program helps students get their homework done like tutoring, but many of the kids have English as a second language and it is hard for them so that is why we are here to help translate for them,” Lambert said.

The mentoring program has helped many of undocumented students receive the information and help to eventually go to college. The mentors from Cabrini have worked hard and take pride in this program they have created.

“Cabrini mentors have used both funding from student fundraisers and monetary gifts from student alums, who served as mentors,” Halpern said.

The Cabrini mentoring program in Norristown has been connecting students to their schools, making the success rates so high for this program.

“These students have enjoyed their educational experience more as a result of this program, that they understand the material and the reading, writing and math skills have improved,” Halpern said. “These students have wanted to become more involved in the program because they have friends whom they can trust.”

This program has touched many of students of Cabrini and in Norristown that the program has many successes and lifetime achievements. Students get to bond with undocumented students and help them take the step into the right direction, even when they feel like they have no choice for college.

“It makes me so proud to want to be a teacher and continue strongly with my major,” Lambert, said. “I feel so great after helping them with material and seeing them get better and better.”.



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Brianna Morrell

Hey I'm Bri! I'm a junior digital com major with a minor in graphic design. I am the social media and marketing editor on The Loquitur. Besides Loquitur, I am also apart of WYBF as the engagement director for the station. When I'm not running around the com wing, I enjoy sleeping and spending time with my friends!

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