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CSUN Dream Center


All Students Deserve to Have Opportunity

Supporting all CSUN students to pursue their passions.

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Students stand in a lounge

Being a college student is tough. Juggling studies, finances, perhaps a part-time job and family can be extremely stressful. When you’re an undocumented college student, that stress can be debilitating without adequate support.

Raquel Cetz Tamayo (Political Science and Chicano/a Studies, ’19) and her mother migrated from Mexico when she was just two years old. Although she’s undocumented, the United States is her home. Raquel is a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protects her from deportation for two years and provides her with a work permit and social security number. After that she must reapply, costing her approximately $500 and any other fees that a lawyer may charge.

Raquel’s situation is not unique. In fact, CSUN has one of the largest university immigrant populations in the nation. To support and welcome these students, CSUN established the DREAM (Dreamers, Resources, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Mentorship) Center in 2014.

“The DREAM Center has been valuable, empowering and helpful,” says Raquel. “I am extremely grateful for the community that we’ve built. It has provided me with opportunities to think outside my box, to not limit myself to the things that I can’t do because of my legal status.”

Raquel works as a student assistant for the center, an opportunity afforded to her as a DACA recipient. Working for the Dream Center gives Raquel a source of income and experience, and allows her to fulfill her passion — helping other marginalized people feel welcome.

“Our programming teaches undocumented students how to pursue professional careers as undocumented immigrants,” explains Raquel. “We have a comprehensive approach to not only take care of our students academically, but also their financial, physical and mental wellness.”

The DREAM Center is a centralized hub of support, leveraging partnerships with outside organizations to ensure students receive the comprehensive assistance they need to be successful. Services provided at or through the DREAM Center include legal assistance and referrals, peer mentoring, counseling, ally and policy trainings for staff and faculty, and policy and legislative updates.

Funds to support the DREAM Center are a critical resource for students. Scholarships help fill the gap of financial aid that undocumented students are unable to receive from the federal government. Professional development awards support students' financial need and provide them with experience in their desired field. Discretionary funds also support attorneys’ fees for assistance provided to students, enhanced technology, and guest speakers and workshops that support students’ legal, financial, mental and physical wellbeing.

“The DREAM Center taught me to be courageous, how to aspire and continue to dream,” says Raquel. “It makes the impossible possible. Things that may seem out of reach — like my desire to pursue a master’s degree — may come as a surprise to some, because the DREAM Center can help me find financial support that I didn’t know was available to me.”