by Mia Booth
Chicago Public Schools (CPS), one of the biggest education districts in the world, is a diverse district of students who come from many different backgrounds. Seventy-eight percent of Chicago Public School students are low income, minority students (cps.edu). Among this group of minorities are 183,000 undocumented immigrants (chicagotribune.com).
An advocate for undocumented students is Luis Narvaez, a CPS district worker for the Language and Culture Academic field. Narvaez has collaborated with his coworkers to address a significant issue within CPS; undocumented students are not able to further their education after high school due to financial barriers. As a result of his position within CPS, he works with students who need to obtain financial aid for college.
Narvaez is not only an advocate for undocumented students, but he was also born outside of the United States. He was once advised never to disclose such information. He explained that his mother took a risk hoping that she and Luis could live a better life in the United States. His mother met a U.S. citizen who said they would give her a job opportunity, so she lied to the government and came across the border. Once she got here, she had to work three jobs to maintain a sufficient living. Narvaez explained how gratifying it is that his life has come full circle, “being the one asking for help to now being the one answering people’s questions and assisting with their fears.”
When meeting Narvaez, he shared a video titled “Undocumented, Unapologetic, and Unafraid,” which is a protest that was led by undocumented students on March 10, 2011, also known as National Coming Out of the Shadows Day. The video showed undocumented students protesting at the Daley Center in downtown, Chicago. There were many students, male and female, who were daring and willing to trumpet their truth of being undocumented and fight for their right to an education.
Narvaez left a piece of advice for us to share. He says, “You are entitled to an education; do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Know that there are resources available to continue past high school. Also, be aware of the Chicago Star scholarship program. It allows students to attend city colleges for free.”