Univision, the Spanish broadcast network, has recently created a new $5,000 scholarship for Hispanic, first-generation college students that disregards the legal status of applicants.
DREAMzone founder Davier Rodriguez said the “Es El Momento Scholarship” provides many opportunities to the Hispanic community, especially because scholarships for undocumented students are seldom heard of.
“DREAMers have very few scholarships available to them,” Rodriguez said. “Having one that is DREAMer friendly, especially one of this amount is great. It’s important that more scholarships like this become available.”
DREAMzone is an ASU organization designed to meet the needs of undocumented students at the university level. The organization has been conducting workshops since October 2012 and certifies staff and faculty as allies to help undocumented students on campus.
Rodriguez said the difficulty that surrounds scholarships for undocumented students primarily has to do with communication. Or rather, the lack thereof.
“It gets complicated, because undocumented status is invisible,” he said. “Providing the information relies on one or two things: individuals who know individuals who are undocumented and/or very clear messaging that is DREAMer-friendly.”
Proposition 300, a state referendum approved in November 2006, stipulates that students who cannot prove their lawful status in the U.S. are not eligible for financial aid or in-state tuition.
Rodriguez said although it is difficult to estimate the number of undocumented students at ASU after the proposition, his team estimates there are fewer than 100. He said he estimated that before the proposition more than 350 undocumented students were enrolled.
Applicants for the Es El Momento Scholarship must go online, register and reply to three essay questions. Prompts ask students to explain how their Hispanic heritage has influenced them, describe their extracurricular activities and discuss challenges they have faced during their academic career.
Arizona DREAM Act Coalition President Dulce Matuz said she thought the scholarship would improve the chance of higher education for Hispanics. Matuz cited the Pew Research Center as having reported legal and illegal immigrants making up 13 percent of the U.S.
“The importance of making sure the Hispanic community is educated will define our future and how successful we will be, as a state and a country,” she said.
The scholarship shows that Univision is working to provide a better way for many students to get an education in difficult circumstances, Matuz said.
“This is a proactive way to help Hispanics,” Matuz said. “They’re giving this opportunity to people who may have to help themselves as well as their families economically.”
Matuz said the new scholarship spoke very highly of Univision and its desire to give back to the community. Univision provides news programming as well as entertainment programming for Hispanic Americans in the U.S.
“The reason they’re the No. 1 network in the Spanish-speaking forum is because of Hispanics right here in the U.S.,” she said. “The private sector does have to give back to the community, and this is the morally right thing to do. It’s the responsibility of nonprofit (organizations), private sector and community that we have an educated Hispanic workforce.”
Baltazar Hernandez, a member of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, said the scholarship does not require students to provide a Social Security number to apply. This directly caters to undocumented students, he said.
The ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy reported that there are between 50,000 and 54,000 potential DREAMers in Arizona.
“I have several friends who are a part of the undocumented struggle,” Hernandez said. “I have a friend who was attending Grand Canyon University and said she was not able to return because of the costs. There’s not a sufficient amount of scholarships being offered to her.”
Hernandez, a public policy sophomore, said the scholarship provides the chance for Hispanic students to attend a four-year university rather than community college.
“I think you gain a lot more essential skills in a four-year university,” he said. “It’s essential nowadays that you attain a four-year university degree. It increases employability and upward mobility.”
The scholarship deadline is Nov. 18. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance in the spring, and scholarship funds will be distributed in fall 2014.
Reach the reporter at or follow her on Twitter @katie_calderon