Stephanie Ortiz, a rising senior at the Partnership’s Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School recently got a chance to influence federal legislation for an issue that hits close to home: college access for undocumented and low-income students. She participated in a two-day National College Access Network (NCAN) convening in Washington, D.C. where she got a chance to tell elected officials about the barriers many students and their families experience in the college application process.
Stephanie especially appreciated the opportunity to tell her story in Washington because she is an undocumented student – a.k.a. Dreamer – who is not eligible to apply for federal financial aid for college.
“I didn’t think I could make a change for things that affect us now, especially FAFSA,” she said. “It was great to share my experiences.” FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which provides college grants, loans, and work-study funds to prospective college students. For now, Stephanie will complete a California Dream Act Application, which is another form of financial aid in California that is offered to undocumented students in the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) program.
Stephanie’s trip was part of her leadership development as a 2018-19 Partnership Lundquist Fellow. Three other Fellows joined Stephanie and shared their voices and advocated for better college access legislation in Congress. Along with these Partnership students and staff, Stephanie joined about 130 other college access practitioners and high school and college students from 25 states to learn about barriers to college access that could be significantly improved with proper federal legislation.
Being able to advocate for better college access was a powerful experience, Stephanie adds, because it supports her academic goals: “I plan to be the first in my family to go to college and my dream is to attend Stanford University and pursue a double major in politics and neurobiology.”
About the Partnership’s Lundquist Fellows Program
The Richard and Melanie Lundquist Fellows Program started in 2010 to help identify young leaders in the middle schools and high schools of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. This five-year fellowship program seeks to further develop students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to their schools, education, and communities with an academic scholarship and opportunities for professional growth. As Lundquist Fellows, students gain exposure to college and career experiences, have the opportunity to act as ambassadors for their schools, communities, and the Partnership, and enjoy a recognition ceremony each and every year they participate in the program until they graduate from high school. Lundquist Fellows also receive a scholarship each year they fulfill program requirements, totaling $2,000 after completing five years of participation. For more information, email Sima.Alimadadian@partnershipla.org.