For Lizbel Escamilla, Fairfield’s 2014 commencement ceremony will hold special memories beyond her own graduation. Not only will she be the first person in her family to graduate from college, this May will also see her parents take one more step to becoming citizens of the U.S.
“Now that I’m 21, and a U.S. citizen, I can petition for my parents to become citizens,” she said. “It’s like a dream come true, and if it happens around the time I’ll be graduating, it will be two major events at once.”
Escamilla, a native of Bronx, New York, has been involved in immigration reform since she was a child, traveling to Washington D.C. for rallies and working with faith-based organizations. In addition, the double major in communication and Spanish major has studied it as part of her coursework.
She also shared her experiences through Performing for Change (PFC), a student organization that seeks to bring awareness about important matters in a non-political way, share perspectives, and provide a lively and heartfelt performance. PFC members choose themes that relate to current events and topics that resonate with students. Past topics include drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, gun violence, pregnancy, and social media, all performed through spoken word, poetry, dance, short plays, and song.
At PFC’s last event in March, they discussed three topics: social media, gun violence, and immigration. Their last performance especially clicked for Escamilla. “It’s not something that a lot of people know about, but I think it’s important to know that children of immigrants exist and that their parents came to the U.S. looking forward to a better life,” she said. “The audience was great and we all felt like we brought our hearts to the stage,” she added.
“I’ve spent the entire year trying to help my parents get legalized,” Escamilla said. “But immigration isn’t something that a lot of people talk about on campus.” Escamilla felt that this was a way to bring the conversation to students in a comfortable and open way.
Now that both she and her parents, who have been in America for 25 years, are reaching milestones in their lives, Escamilla is excited for what the future holds.
“My parents are so proud of me, and despite all of the time and, sometimes frustrating, process, I’m happy to be able to help fulfill our dreams.”
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