Running to Support Undocumented Students at Sonoma State University

Students can make a difference! Students can support one another and work towards social and immigration justice one step at a time. This year the UndocuScholars Coalition (USC)  club and Students for Quality Education (SQE) have begun planning for the second annual Undocu5k: Educación Sin Fronteras walk/run that will take place on April 28th at Sonoma State. The idea came from Briana Rodriguez, who represents SQE and has had the opportunity to meet other SQE representatives from the California State University system. She learned that CSU Long Beach had hosted the first ever 5k run in the CSU system to support undocumented students, Breaking Fronteras: Undocu5k, back in November of 2016. According to the CSU Long Beach organizers, they noticed “a void in the support, resources, and accessibility for undocumented students not just on our campus but at a nationwide level.”

The CSU Long Beach Undocu5k is composed of 15 organizations that put together its resources to host the event. The goal is to raise funds to distribute scholarships to undocumented students across the state of California. The group just hosted its Breaking Fronteras:Undocu5k on March 11. Similarly, the Sonoma State Undocu5k has established a scholarship to support undocumented students – Educación Sin Fronteras. Both CSU Long Beach and Sonoma State organizers, all students, are also in charge of developing the scholarship application and selecting the awardees. For Sonoma State, the key application reviewers have been Briana, SQE, and former USC president, Monica Cornejo, who is now a doctoral student at UC Santa Barbara. From last year’s Undocu5k run, they raised $1,900 and were able to give out six scholarships of $300. Students must apply for the award through the Scholarship office. Again, this will be an annual scholarship funded by students for students, which is powerful because students are taking the lead to help their classmates.

The event itself brings together students (8th grade all the way to college students), faculty, staff and community members for a great cause. Each participant that registers for the run receives a bib and a t-shirt that includes the logo of the event with big colorful letters on the front that read Undocu5k and a small butterfly over the K. The t-shirt itself is powerful because the butterfly has become popular in immigration advocacy iconography. The run welcomes all ages because it can also be walked or jogged. There were participants as young as 6 months old being pushed in strollers by their parent, and college students even had their parents participate. There is however, a timed race for three levels: child, female and male runners. Last year, a member of the Sonoma County Office of Education board trustee was the fastest male runner while the child runner was only 12 years old. All volunteers on the day of the event were Sonoma State students and members of USC, SQE, MALCS de SSU and/or MEChA de SSU. It was clear that this was about and for our undocumented community. As the political climate has changed, the need for this event is even greater. Briana just like the with the leadership of UndocuScholars Coalition wants this year’s Undocu5k  to be bigger to ensure that undocumented students on and off-campus know that they are supported and that students will walk, jog and run to ensure that they can reach their educational attainment regardless of their citizenship status.

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Mariana Martinez

Mariana Martinez

Mariana G. Martinez, PhD, is the eldest of three and the first in her family to earn a high school diploma and a higher education. She was raised by immigrant parents that encouraged her to get an education so that one day she could work as a secretary and not in a physically laboring job like the fields. Mariana has been an advocate in the field of education for almost 2 decades. Her love and passion in education began as Senior in high school interning at a local elementary school. Currently Mariana is the Research Coordinator for the McNair Scholar Program, a federally funded program that serves first generation and historically low income students pursue the next of their educational goals, at Sonoma State University. She is also a Lecturer in the [email protected] and [email protected] Studies Department.

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