Jorge Jernomino’s mother migrated to America from Mexico to give her five children a chance at a better life.
Now Jeronimo, the youngest of five children raised by a single mother, is a senior majoring in applied mathematics.
“I came to the U.S. when I was 4 years old. My mom had a dream,” Jeronimo said to a crowd celebrating the recent grand opening celebration for the Bronco Dreamers Resource Center. “Without her courageousness and boldness to migrate to the U.S., I wouldn’t be here.”
The center, which officially opened in September, hosted a celebration Oct. 17 for the newest addition to the cultural centers occupying the old stables. The BDRC’s purpose is the serve the university’s growing undocumented student population.
Cal Poly Pomona currently has an estimated 770 students who are protected by AB-540 and receive a nonresident tuition exemption under state law. Many of them undocumented.
Jeronimo works at the center as a lead program assistant. In his role, he will oversee a newly created Undocumented Ambassadors program. He also assists the center’s director with creating programs and workshops. He sees the addition of the BDRC as an important one.
“The importance of having a center is a sense of belong for undocumented students,” he said, “to provide resources to help guarantee them time to graduate and to fulfill their potential.”
Mike Manolo-Pedro, coordinator of Undocumented Student Services, said the center has had a steady flow of students since it opened.
When the Trump administration announced its plans in early September to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an immigration policy that allowed those who entered the country illegally as minors to apply for a renewable two-year visa, many Cal Poly Pomona students turned to the center for support, Manolo-Pedro said.
The center launched a DACA campaign, raising close to $10,000 to support 18 students who needed to renew before the deadline. The students also were connected to off-campus scholarships.
“We were able to help all of those who reached out,” he said.
On-campus advocates, including students, faculty and staff, also support the Dream Scholarship, an effort originally started in 2006. The scholarship is awarded at the annual UndocuGrad event.
During the grand opening ceremony, faculty, staff and students posed in front of a painted backdrop decorated with butterfly wings to symbolize migration and words such as “peace,” “love,” and “resist,” in the form of green hills.
University President Soraya M. Coley said the center is a valuable resource for students of all backgrounds and nationalities.
“At some level we’re all dreamers,” Coley said. “We all started out with hope for a better opportunity, a better way of life. It is incumbent upon those of us who have been dreaming for a long time that we make sure those who come behind us can feel that their dreams can become a reality.”