Education is Liberation (essay)

By Jacky

please tell us; what’s the importance of, not only, giving access to higher education for undocumented students, but also providing financial assistance to those individuals?

“It is absolutely essential that the oppressed participate in the revolutionary process with an increasingly critical awareness of their role as subjects of the transformation.” –Freire

We are the oppressed. We are the subjects of scrutiny.  Are we really smart? Are we really capable? Are we really deserving?  Who is we, who are we? Undocumented students, that is who we are.

As undocumented individuals, we have no voting power.  It is perceived that we have no lobbying skills, that we have no monetary value to make a vote or a party pass.  So in my opinion, we are left in the dust.  All we have is a ten-year anniversary.

We have the power to exist.  We have the power to transform. To create a revolution.  Despite laws that constrain our students, our families, and communities we must enter educational fields because we are members of this society.  We are all humans under the same sun, and public education should not be restricted based on our status.  How can educated elites write about the impoverished, how can they write and create policies for our people if they do not understand where we are coming from?  How can people say it is not fair for undocumented students to receive financial aid, when in fact we have participated and struggled as equal competition? Why isn’t fair if you and I (the undocumented student versus the documented student) are both in the same institute, both have the same gpa, and are as involved on campus?

Education can be liberating, education is the path to knowledge and critical thinking.  Many undocumented students are on the path to attaining, if not already, their AA, BA, MA or even PhD.  Educated members of a society are a form of capital, whether it is social or monetary. Many undocumented students are first generation students.  With this mentality, many undocumented students will pursue the completion of a degree, not only for themselves but also for their family because it is a collectivistic struggle.

The US fails to acknowledge the loss of capital each year immigration reform does not pass.  As noted, educated individuals are capital because they have the skill of knowledge and critical thinking.  It is the capacity for economic progress.  Globalization has transformed the definition of education, by creating an emphasis in higher education in competitive markets.  Therefore education must become a functional democracy in order to include the marginalized and revitalize the global competition.  Hence, the accessibility of higher educational institutes must expand to all people, even to our (overachieving) undocumented student population.

Many undocumented students come from low-income families, and paying for school may be hard to choose over paying rent or buying groceries for a month.  Financial assistance is needed because at times it is our only barrier to higher education.  We have the grades, we have the eagerness to learn, we have the magnitude to understand, we have the extracurricular activities, but how can we afford it? We are fully capable of being competitive members of the globalized market.

Jacky, a recent graduate from UC Irvine with B.A. in Psychology & Social Behavior. Currently working at Latino Health Access, a non-profit for healthy communities in Orange County facing issues like diabetes and obesity.

Leave A Comment