dreamers Archives | UnidosNow

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.

Mina Quesen, First 30 at Princeton, Gets Ready for Her Next Chapter

by Mina Quesen, Class of 2023

Three weeks ago, I was packing my things and getting ready to leave sunny Florida for Princeton University. Although I can’t seem to escape the Florida heat—even in New Jersey—I’ve found myself in a whole new world ready for discovery. I’ve met people from across the globe, found new challenges in classes, and even gotten rubber chickens stuck on the ceiling. My experience with Princeton’s Freshman Scholar Institute—a summer program for incoming freshmen who are connected as first-generation, low-income students—has been irreplaceable. 

The interim between high school and the start of fall term allows me to ease into college life and to learn about the campus before the rest of the students arrive. I’ve already learned the importance of using a planner and keeping a budget since events—and expenses—quickly add up. 

I’m learning to take things in stride and push forward when faced with challenges, especially when it comes to classes. My greatest challenge, thus far, is learning that it’s okay when I don’t understand something on the first try. My coding class taught me very quickly that there will be times when I’ll be totally lost, but there are always resources waiting to guide me out of the dark. I must seek them out.

Even after these last few weeks, I’m still excited. I’m excited about new ideas and memories I’ve yet to make. I don’t know if the allure of Princeton will ever wear off for me, especially when I hope to continue to be excited by endless possibilities.

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More College Fees for Undocumented Students Scholarships

Julia Glum writes in the International Business Times about a referendum at Loyola University Chicago in which students approved the increase of their semester fees to create a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrants. Following, the article verbatim, which can be found in this link as well:

<<Loyola University Chicago students want to help their undocumented peers — and they’re willing to pay for it. Some 70 percent of student voters approved a recent referendum that would increase their semester fees by $2.50 and put the money in a scholarship fund for undocumented students who cannot receive state or federal financial aid. “It says, ‘Here at Loyola we accept the best and the brightest no matter what their documentation is,’” former student body president Flavio Bravo told the Loyola Phoenix. Bravo said he’s planning to formally propose the Magis scholarship plan to the school’s board of trustees in June.

The increased fees — $5 per student per year, for a total of more than $50,000 — would support the Magis Scholars Fund, named after the Latin word for “more.” The student government and Latin American Student Organization would oversee and award the money. Applicants would need to be full-time undergraduates with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and leadership potential, according to the initiative’s Facebook page. “It’s a way for us to say we know the university can be doing ‘the more’ for those students,” Bravo told Campus Reform.

As of fall 2014, Loyola had about 16,000 students. The private Jesuit university designated about 190 of them as “nonresident aliens” in 2012, according to the most recent demographic breakdown. Undocumented students qualify for in-state tuition in Illinois but can’t apply for most financial aid programs.

About 27 percent of the student body turned out to vote on the referendum, which has no legal power but does serve as an indication of students’ opinion on the issue. Bravo, who initiated the referendum, said he hopes the trustees will vote on it in December. “What comes next is the fight,” current student government president Michael Fasullo told the Loyola Phoenix. “What we have to do is ensure that this is implemented.”>>

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.