Pima Community College is committed to open access and affordable education. That is the impetus behind the College’s decision in 2013 to consider for in-state tuition undocumented students with deferred action status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Opening our doors is based on the simple premise that education is the key to the middle class life to which so many of our neighbors aspire. Our city, state and nation cannot afford to close the doors of opportunity to anyone if we are to thrive as a society.
Judging by the passion exhibited by the more than 150 participants at the Arizona DREAM Conference held Friday at PCC’s West Campus, it is clear that the K-12 education community in southern Arizona shares those values as well. The conference, spearheaded by ScholarshipsA-Z, brought together students, parents, teachers, counselors and principals to learn how to connect with undocumented students by providing accurate information and access to resources. Also attending were Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez, Sunnyside Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Manuel Isquierdo, and Dr. Alberto Siqueiros, superintendent of the Indian Oasis-Baboquivari Unified School District, who pledged their districts’ commitment to inclusiveness and access.
The superintendents and educators heard stories from such as those of a PCC student aspiring to earn a degree in nursing. His parents brought him to Tucson from Nogales, Mexico when he was a fifth-grader. After graduating from Sunnyside High School, he was determined to pay his own way through college, earning money by cleaning restaurants at night, sometimes working until 4 a.m. Receiving the in-state tuition rate at PCC removed a big barrier to continuing his education.
For me, this topic has a personal dimension. My mother immigrated to the United States from South Korea. She wished, as parents do everywhere, that her children have a better life. That realization of the American Dream came true for me, thanks to the power of education, and the College is committed to seeing that it can come true for all.