Undocumented to Degreed: One Youth’s Journey

Special Contribution from Rosa Granados, TAY-FAP Youth
by
Sarah Davenport, FCNI Director

Rosa entered college undocumented and transitioning from foster care. These two life experiences meant that she faced more obstacles than almost all of her freshmen peers. The only thing that was for certain for Rosa, was that nothing was certain. She had dreams--big dreams--but she wasn’t fully sure if they would be attainable. All she really knew was that she had the drive and the determination to do her part to achieve her goals; all she needed was a little support to go the full distance. 

Thankfully, Rosa was placed in TAY-FAP, a program provided in partnership between the SLO County Department of Social Services and Family Care Network. Through TAY-FAP, Rosa received financial support as well as one-on-one guidance and life skills development. TAY-FAP was able to take care of Rosa’s basic-life stuff, so that she could pour herself into her education. And what Rosa was able to achieve in college was nothing short of remarkable. As an Indígena, Mexicana y Indocumentada, Rosa also became a National Collegiate Athletic Association - NCAA; Division II: Cross Country & Track Field Captain; Student-Athlete Advocacy Committee - SAAC; Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority President; and a Community Healer. Below is a recent interview conducted with Rosa, documenting her journey thus far:

1. What was your experience entering college? What feelings came up for you? 

Entering college as a undocumented person, I knew I was taking a big step moving nine hours away from my childhood location. My familia was bittersweet sweet about the entire situation, so they were angry but proud. You know, first generation vibes. Regardless, they knew I wanted to chase my dreams and go to college. 

As a first year, there was so much unknown. I became very overwhelmed by all the pressure of due dates. (PS first year students: Make sure y'all buy your calendars! Organizing all your course dates in one calendar will save you. I promise.) 

Second year got tougher than ever because I struggled to find my purpose in today’s world as an undocumented person. 

My third year allowed me to advocate and network with important professors and advisors [and receive the help I needed] for following policy action. 

And [now] as a senior, I [know I have] grown in so many different areas [of my life]; areas that can hold space for healing in today's world of war violence, police brutality, land theft, white supremacy, capitalism, colonialism, and settler nations. I [identify with] the survival and strength that our rural and Indigenous communities have. 

2. What were your biggest challenges along the way? 

My biggest challenge has been my citizenship status. When I was young, my mama brought me [to] the states, and I have lived here my entire life. 

Being undocumented means you can’t work legally, [you have] no social security number, you can’t own a home, [you can’t have any] credit cards, etc. Being undocumented affects a persons way of life, including their Social Determinants of Health, something I [learned about in my classes]. These include: our economic stability, education access and quality, health care access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, social and community context.

It is real, ya’ll. I struggled but later obtained my birth certificate, drivers license, and passport. One baby step at a time. 

3. What resources supported your journey? 

The resources that supported my journey were many, including TAY-FAP Services (housing, food,and finances), OhSnap! (food services), LatinX Center (undocumented information, workshops, and community). I realize now that these resources were critical to my success, and [to the success of] many others. 

4. What would you say are your biggest triumphs? What feelings are coming up for you now?

My biggest win is the amazing and beautiful communities I have grown to know. My biggest win is passion for our communities to receive the resources they need and deserve! My biggest win is that although I am undocumented, I was honored to receive my BA in Social Work. My biggest win is that, “Si se puede!” 

5. Where are you going? What are your future goals, dreams? 

My goal is to graduate in 2023 with a Masters in Social Work. After that, my next goal will be to [become a] licensed Clinical Social Work, and [then] network with nonprofits to assist undocumented families [in] achieving their goals.

Congratulations, Rosa, on graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from HUMBOLDT STATE UNIVERSITY! 

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If you would like more information on our Transitional Housing Programs and/or to learn how you can better support youth like Rosa, click here or call (805) 781-3535