Immigration

Marvict Rodriguez-Benkert: Dreaming for Herself and Others

by Sandy Chase

Marvict Rodriguez-Benkert

Marvict is determined to excel in all she does—serving as a role model for her students and mentees.  Having faced challenges head on, she’s become a stronger person.  Those who know her say that she has grit—courage to accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.

A seventh- and eighth-grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher, Marvict enjoys discussing stories and poems that help her students learn about themselves, others, and their world.  

“The satisfaction I feel when my students understand the importance of working on critical thinking and communication skills is invaluable.”

For Marvict, “It’s rewarding when my students tell me that they enjoyed a specific piece of literature, connected with the characters or events, or they’re able to understand a viewpoint that’s different from their own.” 

Having received her bachelor’s degree in English from University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, Marvict has been teaching ELA for four years, her first two at Bradenton’s W.D. Sugg Middle School.  

Currently, Marvict teaches at the State College of Florida Collegiate School (SCFCS), a charter school providing a dual enrollment program:  a high-school diploma and an associate’s degree.  

Teaching at SCFCS gives Marvict more freedom to develop her curriculum—with more technology at hand.  As a new teacher, she devoted countless hours planning her lessons—questioning her strategies.  Over the years, she’s become more confident in her informed instructional decisions. 

However, an ongoing challenge is reaching every student.  Marvict has come to realize:  “Those who want to learn will, and those who don’t—won’t.  Ensuring that students are using technology appropriately is another challenge.”

But Marvict embraces challenges:  obstacles won’t prevent her from realizing her dreams.  During her college-application process, that determination was tested repeatedly.  

An ex-Dreamer, Marvict and her family immigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela 22 years ago.  Because of her undocumented immigrant status, Marvict couldn’t attend any of her choice schools—even though she excelled in high school and received several scholarships.  

Marvict explains, “I couldn’t apply for financial aid or claim any of my scholarships.  My single mom couldn’t afford to pay my tuition.”   

Refusing to accept the inevitable, Marvict says, “I was angry for a while.  It wasn’t until years later that I learned to value what my Dreamer experience had taught me—persevere and never give up on my dreams.”

True to herself, Marvict became a U.S. citizen in 2014.  Before then, she pursued an associate degree and worked at Starbucks, setting aside part of her salary for school and helping her mom.

Fortunately for her students and UnidosNow mentees, Marvict continues to make a difference in others’ lives.  Without a doubt, her 10-month-old daughter, Emilia, benefits from continual “learning” opportunities.  Laughing, Marvict says, “Soon she and I will be dancing together, one of my favorite pastimes.”

Kelly Monod, senior head of school at SCFCS, applauds Marvict’s determination to excel, reach new levels of expertise in her field, and inspire her students to achieve the highest standards of which they’re capable:  

“Marvict has grit—shown by her professional goals and in the classroom. Never giving up on her students, she always meets them at their academic level.  She asks them to grow in their learning, while celebrating their successes.”

A colleague attests to Marvict’s refusal to be defeated.

“Marvict can best be described as fearless—especially when facing challenges.  Looking at what needs to be done, she’s one of the first people to present viable ideas.  Not shying from the unknown, Marvict has an ability to connect with students.  She always goes the extra mile for them.”

UnidosNow Executive Director Luz Corcuera also praises Marvict:

“Marvict brings passion, knowledge, and dedication to UnidosNow—whether as a volunteer at our Noche Latina celebration or for our mentoring program.  We are forever grateful for her time and talent over these last four years.”

One of Marvict’s ex-mentees Daisy Mendoza, a psychology major at Florida Gulf Coast University says, “She was a big help when I needed to have my college essay revised.  Always available, she made sure I filled out my applications correctly.”  

Marvict replies:  “My mentees and students inspire me to continue learning and become a better person so I can help others.  Staying involved in my community has helped me focus on my next dream—that of attending graduate school.”

Law fascinates Marvict. “I want to use my critical thinking skills to change a person’s life in a positive way.  Immigration law interests me because I’d be able to help, guide, and represent others in an emotionally taxing process.”  

Marvict wants to apply her writing skills and life experience to draft laws that would improve people’s lives in a diverse society.  She’s also interested in exploring leadership roles in the public-service sector.

Wherever Marvict’s journey takes her, she won’t stop striving until she’s realized all her dreams and helped others to achieve theirs as well.

UnidosNow Speaks about Social Justice with Japanese Exchange Students

conversation with Japanese students

A delegation of Japanese students are visiting St. Stephen’s Episcopal School as a part of a exchange program, and Mr. Patrick Whelan, Head of Social Studies, invited UnidosNow’s Executive Director Luz Corcuera to speak with the students.

The discussion was centered in social justice and peace. Issues of poverty, immigration, marginalization, education, and social determinants of health were explored. “This will be the generation crossing across the divides to create a just and peaceful world for our future generations”, Mrs. Corcuera explained.

Tuition Equity for DREAMers

DREAMers - June 10, 2014

 

The Florida Immigrant Coaliton and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released a few months ago a basic fact sheet to guide DREAMers in their understanding of House Bill (HB) 851 on Tuition Equity for DREAMers. This bill allows all Florida high school graduates regardless of status to pay in-state tuition rates at all Florida Public Universities and Colleges.

 

Last June, five DREAMers had the opportunity to meet with Governor Scott and Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera. They expressed their gratitude to the Governor for signing the bill and also took the opportunity to remind him there is so much more at stake and there is much more our immigrant communities in Florida need. They had a conversation on driver’s licenses and its importance not only for the immigrant youth in this state, but also for their parents and our communities overall.

 

Please find below the fact sheets on HB 851 to help you understand the process:

Please, do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.

What the Temporary Suspension of DACA and DAPA Mean

Keep_Calm_DACA_DAPA

The week has started with sad news about DACA and DAPA, for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

Today, February 18th, the expansion of DACA was supposed to start, but now it is on a temporary suspension since “[a] South Texas judge in Texas [Hanen] has ordered an injunction on U.S. President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration that permitted millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country”, as TIME magazine informs.

This means that also the plans to accept applications for DAPA has been suspended temporarily.

However, not everything is lost. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh C. Johson, stated on a press release yesterday that he strongly disagrees with Judge Hanen’s decision: “The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority”, he wrote on the note.

Now, according to the White House, the Department of Justice plans to appeal the judge’s decision, “and we believe the courts will ultimately reject this lawsuit because it has absolutely no legal merit”, writes Gabe Ortiz, from America’s Voice.

He sent an email blast Tuesday were she affirmed: “I know it sounds kind of scary, but many legal experts have said all along said that lawsuit is nothing more than a political stunt by anti-immigrant Attorneys General and Governors”.

“The best way our community can fight back against this attack is to stay on track. If you’re eligible, continue getting ready for expanded DACA and DAPA and immediately apply when the time comes. And, very importantly, this attack does not affect 2012’s DACA or its renewal process. So if you already have DACA and are set to renew, you should do so“, keeps explaining Ortiz.

So do not feel discouraged. Continue gathering your documents and getting ready for expanded DACA and DAPA, so when this decision is appealed, you are ready to apply right away. And remember: this decision DOES NOT affect 2012’s DACA, so if you can apply or are due to renew your permit, go ahead.

Do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

 

DACA Expands to Include More Applicants

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 5.53.56 AM

November 20th marked an unforgettable date: President Obama announced new executive actions on immigration, presenting 5 initiatives that will give undocumented immigrants a path to a provisional lawful presence, as well as improving existing visa programs and promoting the naturalization process.

In this post we will focus on the expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which means that more young undocumented immigrants will be eligible to apply for this program without fear of deportation. Carlos Tolentino, a community leader and expert on immigration, says: “It will expand to help at least 100,000 more people”.

You can start applying for DACA -for the first time or to renew- on February 18th!

USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) gives us this basic information in their website:

WHO IS ELIGIBLE

  • Individuals with no lawful immigration status who are seeking initial or renewal DACA.

WHAT THE INITIATIVE WOULD DO

  • Extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from two years, and allows you to be considered for DACA if you:
  • Entered the United States before the age of 16;
  • Have lived in the United States continuously since at least January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007;
  • Are of any age (removes the requirement to have been born since June 15, 1981); and
  • Meet all the other DACA guidelines.

WHEN YOU CAN START TO MAKE A REQUEST

  • February 18, 2015 (USCIS will not accept requests for expanded DACA before that date)

HOW TO MAKE A REQUEST

REMEMBER: You can apply for the expansion of DACA this Wednesday, February 18th. Start gathering all your documents and filling out the application. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact UnidosNow at 941-256-0625.

(Photography from USCIS flyer on DACA).