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Challenge Early College High School student Michael Diaz Dominguez came to HISD’s first-ever Dream Summit not for himself, but for his family and friends who are undocumented and perhaps a bit hesitant to attend a college fair for international students.
“Even though I’m a citizen, I have several family and friends who are not and don’t know how to get information on college,” said Dominguez. “I wanted to be able to bring them something back from this program, because I want to lead them in the right direction for their future.”
More than 100 HISD high school students born in places such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America received guidance on the steps international students could take to apply for college and financial aid during the Dream Summit on Saturday, Dec. 13. The event, organized by HISD’s College Readiness Department, offered students an opportunity to get a free affidavit that states he/she has been a Texas resident for three years, which is an admissions requirement for international students.
“I’ll be the first person in my family to graduate from high school, so my family really doesn’t know how to help me with applying for college and knowing what to expect,” said Davis High School sophomore Yesica Teran, who came to the U.S. as a baby.
Students met with admissions representatives from community colleges and Texas universities, attended information sessions on the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA), and received college and financial aid tips from first-generation college students and education advocates with AVANCE and FIEL (Familias Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha, which means Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle).
“I have worked every single semester I’ve been in college, and I will graduate without debt,” said Beatriz Ramirez, a Milby High School graduate and Texas Southern University senior who spoke on the panel. “Don’t be discouraged by the cost of college. Step up your game and apply for financial aid early and lots of scholarships, because they’re not just for citizens.”
HISD College Readiness Assistant Superintendent Rick Cruz said that the Dream Summit is needed in Houston and within HISD because both the city and the district serve an increasingly diverse population.
“We have students from so many different countries,” Cruz said. “We have to make sure we’re serving all of them, because we live in an increasingly global society.”
The program was sponsored by FIEL and Minute Maid.