Catalyst Conference in Long Beach brings security to undocumented students

Katalina Qunitanilla, Editor in Chief

Bakersfield College was one of many community colleges that received the Catalyst Grant in December 2018 for $115,000 that will benefit undocumented students attending the college.

The California Campus Catalyst is a group of funders, advocates and educators that provide ambition to undocumented students living in fear. 

These leaders help students and their families feel secure in their homes and help them navigate their lives around the U.S system. 

A team of BC staff, faculty, administrators, and students attended the Catalyst Conference in Long Beach, CA in early January.

It was a two-day conference that empowered undocumented college students from across California.

“Thirty-two institutions of higher ed. in CA were selected as recipients of the Catalyst Fund, a competitive grant process whose funds are designed to provide direct student services and support for undocumented students. Each of the 32 institutions selected two student leaders to attend the Convening; these students are now identified as Catalyst Student Fellows,” EOP&S counselor Manuel Rosas said. 

According to Rosas, the two-day Convening had two purposes for the Student Fellows.

Students attended a variety of leadership workshops that allowed students a safe place to have a conversation with fellow undocumented students. 

The BC staff also attended workshops to teach them how to provide tools that are necessary in order to better serve, inspire, and motivate their undocumented students at their campus. 

“Everyone engaged in a set of workshops and presentations that allowed all attendees to learn, share questions, and gain best practices,” Rosas continues, “The goal for the convening was to build and strengthen a community across Catalyst Fund campus partners and to address campus needs through workshops and presentations that deepen the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to build out and sustain programs that support undocumented students and their families.” 

Two students from BC, Carlos Avendano, and Judith Diaz, received a stipend from the portion of the grant. They both signed a fellowship agreement that promised the Catalyst Grant that they will participate in monthly webinars and will complete questionnaires, and they will write a two to three-page reflection on their experience at the end of spring semester.

“I realized that our undocumented population isn’t dominated by only Latino commuinty but we should acknowledge everyone else,” Diaz continues, “The grant will personally benefit not only me but the school because we’ll be able to create new things for incoming undocumented students.”

There are plans for creating a dream success center for undoumented students who begin their education at BC.