Rosa RiVera Furumoto, Ana
Friends said it was risky to apply to CSU Northridge, but Ana felt she deserved to go to a four-year university. Because she’s undocumented, she put zeros in the space for her Social Security number on the application. She was thrilled to be accepted as a transfer student.
“You dream big, but dreams can be dashed by having a status you did not choose,” says Ana, who moved here from Mexico at age 3. “You enroll in college, but you aren’t sure how to pay for tuition and a roof over your head. You don’t know who to confide in or where to ask for help.”
On the verge of dropping out during her final semester because she could not afford tuition, Ana found unexpected support from the CSUN Dream Alliance, which granted her a scholarship named after the mother of Rosa RiVera Furumoto, a Chicano studies professor and alliance member. The alliance consists of faculty, staff and students who advocate for undocumented students.
Ana decided to thank the kind stranger behind the scholarship that prevented her from dropping out. When she saw a sign posted outside Furumoto’s faculty office door stating “AB 540 Safe Zone,” she breathed a sigh of relief; she no longer felt alone.
(Assembly Bill 540 ensures that undocumented students don’t pay out-of-state tuition. But undocumented students struggle because they are not eligible for many loans and scholarships.)
When Ana enrolled in Furumoto’s literature class, a strong bond was formed. Both hail from indigenous communities in Mexico, and the professor filled her student with renewed pride in her heritage. Furumoto asked Ana to join a local after-school parent-child literacy program. Ana loved helping families practice reading so much that she decided to become a teacher. After graduating with a degree in Chicano studies last spring, she applied to UCLA to earn her teaching credential and master’s degree at the same time.
Furumoto also encouraged Ana to apply for a grant of deferred action under President Obama’s executive order, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, for children of undocumented residents. Ana recently received a two-year work permit; she is hoping it will be renewed. After years of worry, she feels optimistic that she can accomplish her goals.
“Rosa has been a wonderful role model for me,” says Ana. “She is an exceptional teacher and a good friend. She helped me see how privileged I am to attend a university. When I thought all my opportunities were blocked, she helped me see how many options I do have.”
“I was glad to help,” says Furumoto, a California Faculty Association member. “College is all about dreams. We have to do what we can to make the dreams of all our students come true.”