Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca would not be studying at Cañada College in Redwood City, getting ready to transfer to a four-year college and major in political science and communications, were it not for the help of a scholarship for undocumented students.
Unable to apply for federal student loans because of her status and discouraged by naysayers, she thought it would be impossible to go to college, and she knows many other undocumented youth feel the same way. (About 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year in the U.S.) That’s why she created DREAMer’s Roadmap, a mobile app that helps undocumented students find scholarships.
“I know what it feels like to be an undocumented high school senior and have people tell you ‘you can’t go to college’ and ‘there’s no help for students in your situation,’ ” Salamanca said. “I don’t want students to feel the hopelessness I felt during my senior year, and I know that with this app I’m not fixing all the issues undocumented students face as they prepare to go off to college but it can alleviate a big part of the process. This tool is what I wished I would have had when I graduated from high school.”
DREAMer’s Roadmap hit the app store in April and has more than 10,000 users so far. It is free and features scholarships offered by myriad organizations. Users can filter the database to narrow down which scholarships they qualify for and want to apply for. New listings are continually added.
The app was launched with $100,000 that Salamanca won in the 2015 Voto Latino Innovators Challenge.
Nothing is impossible, Salamanca stressed. “Anyone can accomplish whatever they set their mind to. Your status shouldn’t define how far you go. People will always label you and try to limit you but only you know how far you can go and let me tell you, the sky is the limit!”
Here she is explaining her app, and telling her story:
Banner image courtesy Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca