While DACA litigation continues, immigrant leaders across the country are ready to organize in their localities for education justice & to stop deportations now!
Washington, D.C. and Cities Nationwide – Today, United We Dream is proud to announce the 2018 Build The Dream fellows. Despite ongoing DACA litigation bringing uncertainty for immigrant youth, seventeen immigrant leaders have been selected to work with United We Dream organizers in cities across the country — including Albuquerque, Miami, Austin, Chicago, and more — to work on a wide variety of local causes including education justice and stopping deportations. The time for action is now!
Below are the bios of the seventeen immigrant leaders who are part of the inaugural Build The Dream fellowship class. You can also find their bios and pictures online here.
Felipe Rodriguez was born and raised next to the ocean in the beautiful port of Acapulco, Guerrero, México. He immigrated to the US along with his family in search of security and opportunities. Felipe recently graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Statistics. He has been a community organizer since 2014 and believes in the power of the community to secure victories in immigrant rights and social justice.
Viviana Yoshuri Martinez was born and raised in Durango, Mexico. She and her family immigrated to the United States in 2009. She attends the University of New Mexico and is currently pursuing her double-degree in Biochemistry and Spanish, with the intention of attending medical school. She was first introduced to community organizing in 2016. As an undocumented student she looks forward to helping and empowering immigrant students and families.
Jennifer Garcia is a native of Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, Mexico whose family migrated to Albuquerque, NM when she was eight years old. Jenny is currently dedicating her life to Holistic and Natural Medicine. She is a graduate from The New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics, and an Herbalist at The Ayurvedic Institute. Jenny values the wellbeing and health of the immigrant community, prompting her to become involved in United We Dream’s UndocuHealth project, providing natural health alternatives for her communities.
Citlaly Fernandez is 22 years of age and was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1995. She was raised in Chihuahua, Mexico and immigrated at the age of 10 along with her parents and three sisters. Citlaly has been in the U.S. for over twelve years and graduated from Santa Fe High School in 2014. She will be going to the University of New Mexico to get her degree in music education while working as a musician in a mariachi band for her family and education. Her goal is to share her love of music to new generations and help them find the true beauty behind this universal language. Citlaly has been involved in the immigrant rights movement alongside the New Mexico Dream Team, the NM Branch of United We Dream, for ten months.
Moises “Mo” Rodriguez Cruz is an undocu-queer DACA recipient and current third year at the University of Chicago, double majoring in Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies with a minor in Human Rights. At UChicago, Mo is involved with the UChicago Mock Trial Team, the University of Chicago Coalition for Immigrant Rights, as well as with the Questbridge network, an organization that serves high achieving first generation and/or low income students. As a member of United We Dream and co-founder of Fuego, a local youth-led group, his focus is on education justice. Mo is passionate about intersectional justice, lifting up queer/trans undocumented voices, sweet tea, horchata, elotes, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Netflix & Hulu, bow ties, and the theatre.
Tyler Lum is a student organizer at Temple University where he studies Political Science. He became involved with the immigrant rights movement in September of 2017 after DACA was rescinded, and shortly after became a member of United We Dream in December. Tyler was born in Subang Jaya, Malaysia and immigrated to the United States when he was 7 with his mother and brother. As a 1.5 generation immigrant, he feels that it is his responsibility to use his privilege as a citizen to fight for a humane and equitable immigration system. As a Build The Dream fellow, Tyler will be growing a new youth membership base in Philadelphia.
Estephanie De la Cruz is twenty-one years old, originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States in 2005. She grew up in the small conservative town of New Braunfels. She was first introduced to community organizing and found a family in United We Dream during the winter of 2017 when the organization was advocating for the Dream Act. As a fellow she will grow the membership base in Austin in preparation for the 2019 Texas Legislature battles. Her hope is to create a better world where everyone can thrive.
Menha Akram has been involved with United We Dream since November 9th, when students at the University of Houston joined in the national walkout for the Dream Act. In December, she joined the Houston bus for the Dream Act campaign in D.C., where she bonded with other immigrant youth and decided to become involved locally in Houston. Over the past several months, she has grown as a person and organizer, and is thrilled to join the Build the Dream cohort to continue empowering her communities & help new leaders grow and prosper.
Oklahoma City, OK
Guillermo Hernandez was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He is an active member in Dream Action Oklahoma (DAOK), an affiliate organization of the United We Dream network. In DAOK, he has been the Outreach Coordinator since February 2018 where he creates DAOK chapters at high schools and colleges where the students involved will be participating in civic engagement.
Ricardo Chavez is a gay, queer, and unashamed child of immigrant parents. He is a high school student taking dual credit courses at Oklahoma City Community College and works at Famous Footwear. He is a member of Dream Action Oklahoma, an affiliate organization of United We Dream, where he coordinates logistics for DACA clinics and provides Know Your Rights presentations. After graduation he plans on attending a four-year university and go to medical school so that he can heal and help others as a Chief of General Surgery. His hobbies include volunteering, playing with his dog Lobo and doing makeup.
Gerson Quinteros was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the U.S. in 2004 where he has been leaving in Washington, D.C. ever since. He is studying Computer Science at The University of the District of Columbia. He loves to play and coach soccer, and has been coaching soccer since 2012 at a non-profit called D.C. SCORES. He loves learning about different cultures which prompted him to create the International Student Association (ISA) at his University. He wants to travel the world and learn about different cultures directly from the people who live out their own cultures. He has been involved with United We Dream’s D.C./Maryland/Virginia Chapter for over a year.
Azita is the daughter of two immigrants from Mexico and Iran. She currently attends California State University – Northridge where she will be graduating this upcoming spring with a degree in Business Law. Though she is not an immigrant, she still fights to defend immigrant rights and participate in any campaigning that United We Dream has organized. She from California to Washington D.C. for her fellowship in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia Branch. For her fellowship she will be providing organizing trainings for youth throughout the summer and participate in civic engagement. She hopes to bring back what she learns for her own local community.
Ibrahim Pinzon was born in Guerrero, Mexico and was brought to the United States at the age of one. He is a recent graduate of Gaithersburg High School and will be attending Montgomery College in the fall with the hope of transferring to a university to receive his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. Speaking up and taking action for those who cannot is his biggest motivation in his leadership and is what drives him to be fully energetic and active in his community. He finds strength in himself by learning from the values of other leaders around him. He has found family in United We Dream and looks forward to fighting for his communities.
Los Angeles, CA
Dulce Lopez is a proud daughter of Mexican immigrants residing in Los Angeles, CA. She recently graduated from California State University – Dominguez Hills with a B.A. in Chicana/o Studies and has been accepted at the Long Beach campus to work on her Masters in Education. As a student in CSU-DH, Dulce organized and advocated for student issues like tuition increase and lack of resources available and accessible to women, and populations like the LGBTQIA+ community, undocumented students and other marginalized folks. Dulce aspires to become an educator for high school students in South Central to demonstrate that although the system works against marginalized communities, one opportunity in life can go a long way. Her motto: “I’m Brown, I’m Queer and I’m Here”
Gabriela was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, and immigrated to the US at the age of one. Gabriela is a DACA recipient who comes from a mixed status family. She was the first in her family to graduate high school and the first to pursue higher education. Her lack of immigration status has motivated her to step up and advocate for immigrant rights and for immigrant youth who, like herself, face an uncertain future. Gabriela is a community organizer and a member of Sanctuary Santa Cruz. She joined the United We Dream family while lobbying for the Dream Act in Washington, D.C. this January. She has recently relocated to Southern California to help lead efforts to organize Orange County as a United We Dream Fellow.
Felipe Henriques is an undocumented immigrant who was born in Brazil. His family came here for the same reasons most do, to escape the dangers and difficulties they faced where they came from. They arrived to New York where he spent most his childhood and eventually moved to Florida where he has lived since. Felipe loves to travel, meet new people, and eat a lot of food. He first came across United We Dream on March 5th through a friend and immediately fell in love with the immigrant rights movement. He is excited to bring his experiences to United We Dream, help lift up the voices of undocumented youth in South Florida, and gain much more from this opportunity.
Maria Perez immigrated from Argentina to the U.S. in 2000 after being fired from a job she had worked at for 17 years. Due to economic instability in her birth country, she decided to immigrate with her two children. Her greatest fear was her family being separated when it came time for her daughter to go to college in 2013 — she feared her daughter would have to return to Brazil, but fortunately, both her children qualified for DACA, allowing them to pursue their dreams in the U.S. Because of this, she was inspired to volunteer her time with immigrant rights organizations. She is overjoyed to be a part of the Build The Dream fellowship as a working mother and give back to the community by fighting for families in South Florida.
United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful network made up of over 400,000 members and 48 affiliate organizations across 26 states. UWD’s vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of young people who organize and advocate at the local and national levels for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color in the United States.