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PNS Daily Newscast - September 25, 2020 


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Immigrant College Grads Celebrate Resiliency, Look to Uncertain Future

Immigrant college graduates in the class of 2020 missed traditional graduation ceremonies due to the coronavirus. (Adobe Stock)
Immigrant college graduates in the class of 2020 missed traditional graduation ceremonies due to the coronavirus. (Adobe Stock)
June 4, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina's first generation immigrant college grads have missed out on rite-of-passage graduation ceremonies, and many now are reflecting on their college experience and future job prospects.

Uyen Nguyen, a first-generation immigrant from Vietnam and a graduate of Davidson College, says it's a huge milestone, given the national rhetoric toward immigrants over the past few years.

"Especially with the class of 2020," she states. "We entered college with the election of Donald Trump, and it's not an easy transition for a lot of us, because with the xenophobic campaigns, a lot of us feel personally attacked, and we have to worry about our family."

A report released earlier this year estimated there are more than 450,000 undocumented students enrolled at higher education institutions, and more than 216,000 are eligible under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.

Nguyen says many immigrant and first-generation college students face challenges that can make the experience lonely and overwhelming.

"We don't have family members that can help us, or that can understand the rigors of a college education," she states. "So we don't have a lot of support from home."

Nguyen says she'll soon be working for a criminal-justice reform organization in Georgia, and eventually plans to attend law school.

"My dream is to become a lawyer who advocates for undocumented communities," she states.

And Nguyen says she still had a chance to experience a graduation ceremony and celebrate her accomplishments as part of a virtual Immigrad commencement last month, alongside hundreds of other immigrant students across the country.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC