Reflections on the 2024 SUCCESS Convening: Unity and Empowerment for Undocumented Students

Reflections on the 2024 SUCCESS Convening: Unity and Empowerment for Undocumented Students

Authors: Luz Bertadillo Rodriguez & Ivana Lopez Espinosa

Last month, we were thrilled to organize the 2024 SUCCESS Convening hosted by the Presidents’ Alliance, in collaboration with TheDream.US and Immigrants Rising organizations at Rice University in Houston, TX. This event brought together over 350 campus leaders, advocates, and legal experts to discuss ways for supporting undocumented students in pursuit of their educational and career goals.

In this post-event blog, we’re excited to share our experiences and reflections from the 2024 SUCCESS Convening!

Why Houston?

It’s significant that this year’s convening was hosted in Texas, a state that represents a diverse  array of immigrant experiences. Texas is home to the second largest undocumented population in the U.S., acting as a microcosm for the country as a whole. Texas is also a pioneer in adopting policies that support undocumented students. Texas’ adoption of tuition equity policies back in 2001 catalyzed 23 other states and the District of Columbia to follow suit.

“We recognize the significance of coming together and finding solutions to the challenges facing undocumented and other immigrant students.”

Reginald DesRoches, President of Rice University

Despite this immigrant-inclusive legacy, recent challenges, including the UNT court case and ongoing legislative efforts to rescind DACA, highlight the vulnerability of tuition equity in Texas andin other states across the country. Hosting the SUCCESS Convening in Houston gave us the opportunity to engage directly with the local community and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by immigrant students in the region.

Key Insights and Takeaways From 2024 SUCCESS Convening

Looking back on our time at the 2024 SUCCESS Convening, we’re amazed by participants’ shared dedication to advancing equitable access to career development for undocumented students. The sessions provided practical strategies and tools that we can incorporate into our work to create more inclusive environments that better support undocumented students across the country.

 “As a university professor deeply invested in the academic and professional growth of our students, the convening provided a profound reminder…that our role extends beyond imparting knowledge; it’s about being catalysts for change, fostering an environment where every student has the opportunity to thrive.”

William Perez, Professor at the School of Education, Loyola Marymount University

One of the sessions, Building a Program, focused on how higher education practitioners can start career development programs for undocumented students on their campuses. The session highlighted key components of successful programs – such as financial aid resources, legal support services, mental health counseling, and academic advising— that help build holistic support systems tailored to the unique needs of undocumented students. Through discussions led by experienced practitioners and advocates such as Denise Vivar, Dario Fernandez, and Julie Mitchell, attendees gained strategies for overcoming common challenges and implementing effective practices to ensure the well-being of immigrant students navigating different employment pathways.

2024 SUCCESS Convening Session

Another session that resonated with us was “Engaging Your Career Center to Support Undocumented Students.” This session highlighted the crucial role that career centers can play in empowering undocumented students to pursue their professional aspirations. We learned about innovative programs and initiatives that provide career development resources and opportunities for undocumented students. From workshops on resume writing and interview skills to internship and job placement assistance, these programs are working to ensure that every student has access to the support required to reach their goals after graduation.

2024 SUCCESS Convening Session

One overarching theme that emerged from the convening is the importance of collaboration and partnership across sectors. By working together, we can leverage our collective expertise to develop impactful, sustainable responses to the challenges facing undocumented students. Whether it’s sharing best practices, advocating for policy changes, or mobilizing support within our communities, we have the power to advance a brighter future for undocumented students across the country.

Celebrating Success: Inaugural SUCCESS Awards Ceremony

2024 SUCCESS Convening Awards

One of the highlights of the SUCCESS Convening was the inaugural SUCCESS Awards Ceremony, where the Presidents’ Alliance, TheDream.US, and Immigrants Rising came together to celebrate individuals and institutions making a difference in the lives of immigrant students. This ceremony was not only a celebration of achievements but also a testament to the collective efforts being made to create more inclusive and welcoming environments on college campuses across the country.

These honorees are leading the way in ensuring that all students, regardless of immigration status, have access to the resources and opportunities they need to succeed.

2024 SUCCESS Convening Awardees

Let’s Gear Up for SUCCESS 2025

The 2024 SUCCESS Convening was a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of higher education. As we return to our respective campuses and communities, we are inspired to redouble our efforts to create more inclusive and welcoming environments where all students can learn and thrive, regardless of their immigration status.

With the end of the 2024 SUCCESS Convening, our eyes now turn to the 2025 convening, which will be hosted in Chicago!

“As part of the Undocumented Immigrant Alliance at my university, attending the SUCCESS convening gave me a platform where undocumented voices can be amplified…We’re excited that SUCCESS is coming to Chicago because we’ll be able to promote all these resources for our undocumented students and our staff members, and grow our community to span across the country.”

Grettel, Undocumented Student and TheDream.US Scholar

2024 SUCCESS Convening College and University Presidents

Thank you to all attendees for bringing your heart, drive, and knowledge to Houston. We look forward to seeing you next year!