A successful completion of scholarship applications for AB 540 Cabrillo students recently occurred. These students have been meeting for an one hour class and an one hour tutoring session every week since Feb. 24. They receive no college credit for this class or for the tutoring, but they have dedicated themselves to improving their writing skills to complete the essays required to receive a scholarship.
The writing improved to develop their voices to describe what they were feeling, what they were thinking, and what they have learned from their experiences as an undocumented student in K-12 and now at Cabrillo College. They had to learn a new language. They had to learn how to function in a new culture. They had to learn the governmental structure of their new home. How would this learning help them in higher education? Among the writing prompts for their essays was the question, what public service have you completed in the community and what public service will you do in the community after you receive your degree? These students have already been and will continue to be an asset to whichever community in which they decide to live. This is their home and they want to give back to the community for what others have done for them.
Two weeks ago students began receiving notices that they have been awarded scholarships for $400, $600 and $800. Some students have received more than one scholarship. They know that their hard work paid-off and they will continue working to complete their education at Cabrillo and then transfer to a four-year university.
So what happens after they receive a degree? They have no social security card or driver license for identification. They have no passport or “green card”. They are referred to as “illegal” and employers are fined for employing residents with this status. However, there is an option for undocumented students who have successfully completed a degree in health, in education, in business, or any other field. They can become an independent contractor. According to the IRS all these residents need is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Employers can hire any independent contractor who has an ITIN. They will pay self-employment tax and income tax. The contractor will provide his/her own tools and equipment. The contractor will set his/her own hours and work schedule. And the contractor will receive all profits and is held liable for all losses and debts. Upon completion of higher education undocumented residents can make a living for him/herself and their family. Higher education is a benefit for all our students including undocumented students.
Twelve AB 540 students benefited from the community-based Dream Scholarship program at the Cabrillo Watsonville Center this semester. It is estimated that 29 students graduating from Watsonville High School in June qualify as AB 540 students. Many will be attending Cabrillo College in the Fall. For our program to continue to work we will need more community volunteers to tutor these students.
If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions regarding AB 540 students please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.