Sunday, October 12, 2014

Freedom University welcomes a new class of undocumented student leaders


On September 14, Freedom University successfully opened its doors and began the Fall 2014 semester! Freedom U is a modern-day freedom school for undocumented students banned from Georgia's top public universities under Policy 4.1.6. Now in its fourth year, Freedom U continues to defy modern segregation in higher education and provide undocumented students rigorous college-level classes, scholarship assistance, and leadership development skills. 

We are thrilled to announce several exciting developments at Freedom U this year:
First, Dr. Laura Emiko Soltis, who served as a volunteer professor at Freedom U during the 2013-2014 academic year, will be serving as our first Executive Director. With more than ten years of experience as a human rights educator and activist in Atlanta, Emiko has demonstrated a deep commitment to empowering undocumented youth in Georgia and brings to us valuable leadership and grassroots mobilizing skills from her work with immigrants' rights and economic justice movements in the South.
Second, with student input and guidance from our founding faculty, we have secured a fantastic new teaching team and designed a new curriculum for the 2014-2015 academic year. Emiko and the new faculty members – Dr. Raúl Diego Rivera Hernández, Dr. Anna Kim, Mr. Jóel Thompson, Ms. Maria Quiñones, and Mr. Gerardo De La Torre – are highly qualified educators in the fields of cultural studies, sociology, music, photography, urban planning, engineering, and human rights. They also reflect the diversity of our students and identify as first- or second-generation immigrants of Latin American, Afro-Caribbean, and Asian descent. Maria is also a former DREAMer whose experience navigating college as an undocumented student allows her to provide unique insight to our students and their families.

The Freedom University curriculum now features five, one-hour classes, including 1) Contemporary Mexico, 2) Documentary Photography, 3) Music Composition, 4) Human Rights in the United States, and 5) SAT and College Preparation. In addition, the college preparation class includes one-on-one tutoring with student peers from Emory University. With our committed faculty and our growing network of supporters, we are confident that we will continue to help students secure full scholarships and find employment and leadership opportunities in their fields of interest. Slowly, but surely, we are replacing the school-to-prison pipeline with a school-to-movement pipeline.
Third, we have a fantastic new website! If you haven’t already done so, we encourage you to visit and learn more about our new faculty and classes, and see profiles of our current students. The beautiful website was designed by Valentina Franco, a Freedom U graduate and current student at Tougaloo College!


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