Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Leadership lived: Sophomore becomes an advocate for undocumented immigrants

The University of Illinois Springfield has empowered Briana Rodriguez to become an advocate for issues she believes are important. The sophomore legal studies major recently participated a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program at the Illinois State Capitol.

Helping undocumented immigrants is an issue that Rodriguez is passionate about for personal reasons. Her grandparents immigrated to the United States from Mexico without documentation. They were given amnesty by President Ronald Reagan, which allowed them to raise their family in the United States.

“This is really important to me because I could have easily been in this position,” she said. “If my grandparents weren’t given amnesty, they would have been undocumented and so would my mother and I.”

On campus, Rodriguez is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, marketing director for the Organization of Latin American Students, a member the Hispanic/Latinx Mentorship Program and Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority, Inc.

“One of our sorority goals is community service and our chapter philanthropy is with M.E.R.C.Y. Communities, which provides homes for women who are escaping domestic violence or homelessness,” she said.

Rodriguez, a Streamwood, Illinois native, is glad she chose the University of Illinois Springfield.

“I decided to come to UIS because I saw how many opportunities there would be for me,” she said. “As an incoming freshman, I actually watched all of the Leadership lived videos and just seeing how many opportunities all of these students got, I realized ‘that could be me.’”

Following graduation from UIS, Rodriguez would like to attend law school and become an immigration lawyer.

“I think there’s a need for not only more Spanish speaking lawyers, but people who understand the background, the struggle,” she said. “I feel like having that relationship, being able to build that trust with your clients is so important.”

She says the education and experiences she’s gaining at UIS are giving her the tools she needs for her future career.

“I think that UIS really does prepare you and give you that real-life experience you need after college.”

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