USEE hosts scholarship fundraiser for undocumented, DACA students

The proceeds will go toward a scholarship established by USEE for students

The Undocumented Students for Education Equity held its third annual Together We Rise fundraiser dinner Wednesday night, where 100% of the proceeds went to the club's We Rise Scholarship.

The organization, launched by undocumented students in 2017, aims to bring students and families impacted by immigration together. One of its main priorities is to provide the youth of its community the opportunity to earn a college education with the We Rise Scholarship.

"It's about the other students. I think everyone should have a good education no matter the resources or funds," Miguel Gutierrez, a USEE member, We Rise Scholarship recipient and a junior studying accounting, said.

USEE created We Rise last year to be more inclusive of the undocumented community, though it continues to include students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It replaced the organization's previous scholarship, which only benefited DACA recipients. 

"We wanted to be more inclusive and more understanding of different situations and different backgrounds," Stephanie Robles, the chief of staff for USEE and a senior studying political science and communication, said. "That way, more students had this resource for them." 

Last year, the Arizona Board of Regents extended the Non-Resident Tuition Rate for Arizona High School Graduates to undocumented students who attended at least three years of high school in Arizona but do not qualify as a resident of the state. The 150% rate also applies to DACA students, who were eligible to pay in-state tuition until the Arizona Supreme Court decided against it in 2018. 

Robles said scholarships like We Rise are important to release the financial burden many undocumented families face.

The scholarship is funded by money USEE receives from private donations. Donors include ASU alumni like Don Wilkinson, who supports organizations like USEE to make sure all students have the opportunity to receive a post-secondary education.

"Students that need to go to school, should get to go to school," said Wilkinson.

The fundraiser is expected to raise $12,000 from each of the tables bought by the schools at ASU alone. USEE reported that donations also came in individual seats for $100. These funds will go to the six recipients of the We Rise scholarship, who will be awarded $2,000 each. 

"There's not that many scholarships for us available," said Perla Martinez, the finance director of USEE and junior digital culture major. "Even $2,000 could be a great help." 

Guilianna Vivanco Varela, another We Rise Scholarship recipient and a freshman studying international trade, is spending her first semester at ASU with USEE's scholarship. Vivanco Varela is an immigrant from Chile. 

"There is hope," Vivanco Varela said in a speech. "To me, this funding meant I had one less burden on my shoulders and I could work on my studies with one less distraction." 

USEE was started in 2016 as a result of the presidential election. According to its website, many undocumented students said the political and immigration climate left them feeling in danger. 

"Personally for me, it's been very hard," Vivanco Varela said. "I've seen a lot of family members and family friends being affected negatively. I've seen the way they struggle." 

The We Rise scholarships recipients, international trade freshman Guilianna Vivanco Varela (left) and accounting junior Miguel Gutierrez, pose for a portrait after the Undocumented Students for Education Equity "We Rise Together" benefit dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, at the Student Pavilion on the Tempe campus.

Last month, the Undergraduate Student Government Tempe passed Resolution 13 in support of DACA and undocumented students in light of a U.S. Supreme Court trial regarding immigration rights.  

Hanna Salem, USGT president and senior studying public service and public policy, attended the dinner in support of USEE. Salem said USG is not considering any other bills supporting DACA and undocumented students at this time. 

"We very much are in support of all of our students, and obviously our DACA and undocumented students as well," Salem said. 

Also in attendance was USG Polytechnic president and senior professional flight student Daniel Pasco.

Pasco said that while there was support for undocumented and DACA students on the Polytechnic campus, USGP currently has no plans to pass a bill similar to USGT's.

"There is absolutely full support for a similar bill, there's been a consistent show of support from the Polytechnic campus and I don't see that changing in the future," Pasco said.  

USEE hopes to continue expanding on resources outside of their scholarship, like spreading resource guides for undocumented students and informing students about their organization at high school events. 

Robles said she wants to continue to host events like the fundraiser dinner and keep the We Rise Scholarship going for years to come. 

"I hope to come back in the future and be one of the donors sitting at those tables," Robles said. 

For Vivanco Varela, her goal for the future of USEE is to get more students involved in politics. 

"In order for something to change, we need more people to start making a change," Vivanco Varela said.

Reach the reporter at and follow @eringalindo29 on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.



This website uses cookies to make your expierence better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.