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Educational Studies student awarded for speaking out on behalf of undocumented students

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Nancy Guarneros, doctoral student in Claremont Graduate University's School of Educational Studies, has been recognized by the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance for speaking out on behalf of undocumented immigrant students.

The alliance gave Guarneros its Matusak Courageous Leadership Award, which honors people who have shown the courage to take action on difficult social issues. 

Guarneros is a founder of Graduates Reaching a Dream Deferred, an organization that aims to address the needs of immigrant students interested in pursuing graduate education. She has also spoken publicly about her own struggles as an undocumented student, appearing nationally on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.

The plight of Guarneros and hundreds of thousands of students like her has been the subject of intense national debate. In most cases, their parents brought them into the United States as young children in violation of federal immigration laws. These children grow up in the country knowing it as their only home, yet they eventually come to learn that their immigration status bars them from attending the best colleges or finding legal employment. Many are accepted to top colleges and universities but cannot afford the tuition because they are not eligible for financial aid.

Federal legislation that would create a path to citizenship for undocumented students who serve in the military or earn a college degree has stalled.

The Matusak Courageous Leadership Award is sponsored by Larraine Matusak, former Leadership scholar at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and director of the Kellogg National Fellowship Program. Along with other traits, the award recognizes those who are creative risk takers, driven by sound judgment, common sense, and profound sense responsibility, honesty, and trust.

It carries a $2,500 prize, which Guarneros will donate to an organization of her choice.

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