Time Magazine honoree Dulce Matuz speaks at UNO
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, December 15, 2013 17:12
Approximately 645,000 youth are not able to receive college education in the United States because of their undocumented status. Dulce Matuz, an undocumented immigrant herself, chose to use her voice to fight for their rights.
On Oct. 10, Matuz shared her story at Milo Bail Student Center. She talked about immigration and her role as an advocate for undocumented immigrants. More than 100 attendees heard her speech and enjoyed authentic Salvadoran dinner and Mariachi performances by Las Cecilias.
Matuz was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. at 15. As an undocumented student, her legal status created numerous challenges such as obtaining a driver’s license in Arizona, applying to college without a social security number, paying out-of-state tuition and being ineligible for merit-based public scholarships. Despite these challenges, Matuz graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. However, once again, her undocumented citizenship blocked her way to find employment.
Instead of pursuing a career in electrical engineering, Matuz dedicated herself to standing up for undocumented immigrants and fighting for their rights.
“There was a time I was waiting for somebody else, citizens and legal permanent residents to raise their voice and stand up for my right,” Matuz said. “But this time, I want to encourage the 11 million undocumented people to speak and stand up for ourselves.”
When she was a student, Matuz launched the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, a youth-focused and youth-led organization dedicated to fighting for higher education and immigrant rights. She struggled to get the DREAM Act approved to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who, like her, were brought to the U.S. before they were 16.
Matuz’s tireless hard work made progress. She was named to Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list in 2012, for her work calling attention to the struggles of young undocumented immigrants who face barriers to education and employment. Matuz said the Time honor touches her, but it also means she has more work to do.
Matuz’s speech is one of the events during the Latino Heritage Months from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The event is sponsored by the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Association of Latin American Students and American Multicultural Students.
“Our college cares about developing students intelligently. I hope from Dulce’s story students can feel relatable, no matter they are documented or undocumented,” said Helen Kang, assistant director of cultural programs for UNO's Multicultural Affairs Office. “It is important for students to be informed of all the different perspectives.”