These trailblazers didn’t let their citizenship stop them from succeeding


Undocumented alumni spoke Friday night, Oct. 23. They said their journey in higher education began at Cerritos College. Photo credit: Nitish Meena/Unsplash

Daniel Suarez Jr., News Editor

Undocumented Cerritos College alumni attended a nighttime Zoom conference on Friday, where they shared their experiences and gave advice to students preparing for transfer. It was the final event in the Undocumented Student Week of Action, which ran several online webinars between Oct. 19 and Oct. 23.

Pamela Rodriguez had to take ESL classes before regular English classes at Cerritos.

“I struggled a lot with my ESL classes first, then I struggled a lot in math and I struggled in knowing what to do,” Rodriguez said, “But I wanted to be the change, to be the first in my family to attend a university so I decided not to give up.”

Eventually, Rodriguez went on to become the president of the Library Club and was able to transfer from Cerritos with an AA degree and a major in Literature.

These undocumented alumni talked about their experiences at Cerritos, and how it felt walking on to bigger campuses after. They shared the struggles they faced, whether with language barriers or the challenges of seeking financial aid resources.

When Allejandro Cuellar DeLucio came to Cerritos, he remembered having difficulty with a language barrier he had to overcome in high school. He participated in Track and Field for three years and was involved with the Chemistry Club. He graduated from Cerritos with a Chemistry degree before transferring to UC Berkeley.

“EOPS made a huge difference when choosing between staying in college or not. It was a great resource to take advantage of,” he said. He now attends school in Canada.

Karen Patron-Dominguez left a lasting legacy at Cerritos College, starting with cofounding the college’s Dream Club in 2015. She then tried her hand at student government, where she served as Student Trustee and ASCC President the following year.

“I think I got a little too involved at Cerritos,” Patron-Dominguez said, “I don’t regret any of it. The goal was to always provide more resources to undocumented students and to make it easier for them coming in.”

They advised current undocumented students to take Summer courses, make friends quickly and go for internships. The alumni went on to share the opportunities and resources they took advantage of at their new campuses, and how it helped in transitioning to the nine-week quarter system.

“Always connect with alumni, they can always help you with their experiences,” Patron Dominguez said.

Rosa Carillo, a counselor that primarily works for transfer, undocumented and Puente students, led the conference with counselor Lynn Wang. Both are members of Cerritos College’s Undocu-ally taskforce.