Scholarships for Undocumented Students

My name is Renata Martin and I am raising funds for scholarships for undocumented students. All donations will go towards the Tam Tran Scholarship ( of the Cesar Chavez Scholarship Fund. In 2013, we provided scholarships for $500 each to over 15 students and I want to help increase that amount. 

Here is my story:
In 1999, my parents immigrated to the United States with me and my two sisters. I remember the day my mom sat me down and told me we were going to go to Disney World.

We left everything in Sao Paulo, Brazil and with one suitcase, immigrated to the U.S. The truth was: my parents knew the only way for my sisters and I to go to school would be to move to a country where education was a right, America. Where we lived in Brazil, education was not easily accessed.

I clearly remember the day we left Brazil. I remember saying bye to my family and feeling confused for a long time. I couldn't understand why my family hugged me so tight when we said goodbye.

My parents told me we were going on vacation, but little did I know this country would become my home for the next 15 years.

This is a picture of my first day of school in the U.S. with my sister.

Being away from my family was very difficult. However, my parents always gave me hope that we would go back soon. It wasn't until high school that I learned about the barriers that stood between me and my family back in Brazil. The word undocumented soon began to define my life in many ways.

I grew up knowing that I was undocumented, but didn't really understand the meaning of it until high school. Sophomore year, it hit me that I was different. Being undocumented meant that I couldn't work. It meant that I couldn't get a driver's license. And most importantly, that I couldn't get financial help to go to college. I had always worked so hard, but I started to realize that my immigration status would stand in front of my dreams of going to college. No matter how well I did, I would always be judged by the pieces of paper I lacked. I felt American after living in the U.S. for so long, but I had no rights in this country. And I had no way of going back home to Brazil. I was stuck. 

This is not only my story. This is the story of 1.8 million undocumented students.

I ended up going to community college because of a program that I found that would pay for my tuition regardless of citizenship status. Two years later I was able to transfer to Brown University with an outside scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (one of the rare scholarships which undocumented students are eligible for). I worked extremely hard, but I'm also aware that I was very lucky. Students should not have to rely on luck.

Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid and there aren't many programs or scholarships that assist undocumented students financially.

So what do we tell students who were brought to this country at a very young age by their parents without legal documentation or who now have expired visas? What do we tell these students who have grown up in the U.S. and consider this place their home but are not granted the same educational opportunities as their peers who are citizens? Being a first-generation, latino student already has its obstacles; however, when you add "undocumented" to that equation it becomes even more difficult because there aren't many programs or scholarships that assist undocumented students financially.

93% of undocumented students in the U.S. don't go to college because they don't have the financial means

Many of these students dream of being engineers, doctors, architects, scientists, and more but do not qualify for federal financial aid.

Please help and donate. Any donation is highly appreciated and will help a student. 100% of donations will go towards the Tam Tran Scholarship. Any undocumented high school senior in RI is eligible for this scholarship and the goal is to provide around 5-10 ($500) scholarships to help these students pay for books and part of their tuition fee.

And finally, consider this an investment- not a donation. You are investing in the future of students who have potential to do great things and help our community. Let's help them apply to college and continue their education. Together we really can make a difference.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Much love :D

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Renata Martin 
Providence, RI
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