Today, June 15, Oglethorpe University joins the nation in celebrating the 10-year anniversary of DACA, the Deferred Actions of Childhood Arrivals program. The over 800,000 undocumented youth that benefit from this program — called “DREAMers” — are given the ability to apply for drivers licenses, social security numbers and work permits, which would be otherwise prohibited under their undocumented status.
Oglethorpe University, a cultural microcosm that reflects the diversity of its home city of Atlanta, has a long history of welcoming students who are eager to pursue an education, regardless of immigrant status.
In a letter written by Oglethorpe President Nick Ladany last year in support of DACA, he stated: “Here at Oglethorpe, the campus contributions of our undocumented student community can be seen prominently across a range of academic departments, student clubs and organizations, athletic programs, student government positions, civic engagement campaigns, artistic endeavors, and community education efforts. Our campus would be irreparably altered without their involvement in our community.”
Over the years, the university has developed a robust framework for supporting immigrant scholars.
In 2019, Oglethorpe University was the first Georgia university to partner with TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access program for DREAMers. Due to their immigration status, DREAMers are not eligible to apply for federal financial aid. This program raises private funds and awards scholarships to help these students pay for their college education.
In fact, this year’s commencement ceremony saw the very first cohort of TheDream.US scholars walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. The number of immigrant students at OU continues to grow, reflecting an overall national trend. In fact, this fall the university’s partnership will allow more than 140 TheDream.US scholars to pursue an Oglethorpe education.
The OU Monarchs, a new student organization, was created as a support system, community, and safe space for undocumented students at Oglethorpe, those currently enrolled and those to come.
““I initially had the idea of forming OU Monarchs after doing some work over the summer to create an ‘Oglethorpe 101’ sort of guide for a few undocumented students who were starting their collegiate journey,” said founder and President Lidia Labrada ’23. “After that, I found myself thinking about my first year and the lack of an undocumented community on campus, and I wanted to help others by creating a safe space for fun, advocacy, service, leadership, and self-care opportunities.”
UndocuPetrels, another Instagram page, serves as an another resource center for DACA recipients and undocumented students. Petrels and future Petrels can find information on scholarship opportunities, jobs and internships, mental health services, academic support, and more.
Additionally, OU’s HUB for Enrollment Services has online resources to help students with questions about DACA updates, internships, scholarships, legal support and more. The page includes a link to submit anonymous feedback, or students can connect directly with Peter Dye, assistant director of community and global engagement.
On this important anniversary of a historic program for undocumented youth, Oglethorpe University looks forward to welcoming and supporting more students who are eager to “make a life, make a living and make a difference.”