Still, she applied and won a scholarship to study at Eastern Connecticut State University. All she knew of Connecticut was that it was the setting for Gilmore Girls.
The first semester was tough. Lizbeth, now a junior majoring in education and Spanish, developed a new appreciation for her parents’ sacrifice.
“I knew for the first time what it meant to leave home for a brighter future,” she said. “But they came here with nothing, while we had everything they did not have.”
At Eastern Connecticut, Lizbeth is one of 143 Dream.US scholars. The students are excellent, said Chris Dorsey, the university’s director of enrollment management, with an average grade-point average of 3.5 and a four-year graduation rate above 90 percent. The senior class president was part of the program, as was the student-government vice president.
“It shows that when you take cost off the table,” Dorsey, said, “just how successful these students can be.”
Eastern Connecticut holds weekly meetings for scholarship recipients their first year and monthly after that. It connects them with mentors and sets them up with campus jobs. For a college with a mostly regional pull, the scholars add welcome diversity. And Eastern Connecticut is applying lessons from the program, such as building cohorts for support, to improve outcomes other first-generation and low-income students, Dorsey said.
When the college signed on, it made a four-year commitment. This past year, it enrolled the fifth class of scholars. “I thought by now we wouldn’t have to do this anymore,” Dorsey said.
Legislation to provide legal protections and a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other young immigrants has remained stymied in Washington, although President Biden is supportive of such changes. And many immigration-law experts think a federal judge in Texas
could rule the current program unlawful.