In spring of 2016, a group of equity-minded students had a dream: to create a special scholarship for Dreamers attending Marquette University. With the help of dedicated staff, these students put together the inaugural Dreamers Gala to raise funds for the Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J. Dreamers Scholarship. This scholarship seeks to provide additional support to full-time students who demonstrate merit and financial need in pursuing a Marquette University education and are ineligible for federal financial aid.
Most undocumented youth were brought to the United States by their families at a young age and grow up attending American schools, speaking English, and believing in the American dream—that with hard work, anyone can rise up and overcome the circumstances of their birth.But for many undocumented students, no matter how hard they work, their dream of college is out of reach. These young men and women are not eligible for federal financial aid as this requires citizenship or legal permanent residency. The result is that, of the approximately 80,000 undocumented students who graduate from high school each year, very few will attend and graduate from a postsecondary institution.
It was the vision of the original Dreamers Gala organizers to find ways to better support undocumented students in our community to achieve their dreams. They named the scholarship after Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., a proponent of liberating the oppressed in order “to reach the fullness of humanity.”As a Catholic, Jesuit institution, it is central to our identity to recognize the inherent dignity of each human person, and to strive for a more just world—one in which all of God’s children can flourish.And each year we re-commit ourselves to that purpose through renewed efforts to support undocumented youth.
Since the inaugural event, the Dreamers Gala has continued to be a yearly student-led initiative that brings together students, administrators, faculty, staff, Jesuits, and community members in a beautiful celebration of the accomplishments and resilience of our undocumented/DACAmented students. The annual fundraiser raised over $250,000 in the first six years, allowing us to endow the scholarship fund and ensure its impact for years to come.
We invite you to help make dreams come true. The ninth annual Dreamers Gala will take place on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. Registration will open in January. You can also support this effort by donating directly to the scholarship fund.
Proceeds from your Dreamer’s Gala ticket, sponsorship, and/or donation will be directed to the endowment of the Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J. Dreamers Scholarship. You will receive a tax-deductible receipt.
Learn more about the impact of the Dreamers Gala by these alumnae and former student organizers:
Dreamers Scholarship - Isioma Nwabuzor
Isioma Nwabuzor video transcript
Hi, my name is Isioma Nwabuzor and I am a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences 2012 and Marquette Law 2015. I currently serve as Associate General Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary at Modine Manufacturing Company. A bunch of fancy words for saying I’m a lawyer. So, a little bit about my Marquette story. I learned I was undocumented and that I was a Dreamer prior to my freshman year entering Marquette University in or around 2008. I was going to fill out my FAFSA application and prior to hitting submit, I was notified that my application could not be processed until I produced a birth certificate. Now what I thought at the time was me choosing Marquette simply because it was local, I would soon learn was nothing but divine enlightenment. So one of the realities of being a Dreamer or an undocumented student is that you do not otherwise qualify for the free application for Federal Student Aid. This is a benefit that is limited to only American citizens and so again when I went to apply for FAFSA, it did not process. This reality of being ineligible for financial aid, quickly followed the revelation that I was a Dreamer. And so I didn’t have a lot of time to process but my family and I quickly spurred into action and reached out to the administration at Marquette University. And by the grace of God and through their efforts, they made a way out of no way, blessing me with a scholarship, a grant that paid for a significant portion of my undergraduate studies. Receiving that scholarship, I can’t even put into words what it meant for me and my family. You know, I am the eldest of my parents’ children, I’m the first one to attend college in the United States and I am the only undocumented immigrant. And it was a reality that we faced together and at the time seemed relatively insurmountable but again because of Marquette University and the contributions they made in me and invested in me, we were able to cross that bridge. So, in the work I do now, again, as a lawyer, I make sure to take the Marquette values with me of faith, scholarship, excellence, service, and leadership. I, in my 9 to 5, I’m a staunch advocate whether it be for individuals or businesses looking to meet whatever various needs they may have. And then from 5 to 9, I make sure to pay forward for the blessings that Marquette invested in me through my non-profit “The DREAMer Next Door, Incorporated.” And work to alleviate the financial burdens of higher education for undocumented students, while simultaneously mobilizing millennials to solve oppressing sociopolitical issues particularly immigration reform. So, the Dreamers Scholarship for me and other Marquette Dreamers it’s a symbol of hope, right? Our families make sacrifices that most people would never ever ever dream of making. And this scholarship is an indication that those sacrifices are not in vain and they provide a pathway for Dreamers like myself to achieve their version of the American dream. So for those considering you know donating or who have donated, first of all I’ll like to say thank you. Thank you for considering those who look and live like me. And understand that your investment is not just simply giving money for someone to get an education and that’s not to discount the value of that. But your donation is the evidence of sacrifice and hard work of a lineage of people, of generations that forged and traversed unknown territory to make sure they had opportunities for generations to come. Again, I thank you, I thank you for your consideration and I thank you for your support and know that your dollars go towards making someone like me.