Flushing-based organization awards scholarships to undocumented students

Jessica Park, Taewoo Kim and Minkwon Center for Community Action Youth Organizer Dahe Lee.
Photo by Rachel Butler

The Flushing-based Minkwon Center for Community Action recently awarded scholarships to undocumented students in an effort to help them further their education.

Taewoo Kim and Jessica Park were each presented with a Dreamers Scholarship of $2,000 to aid them financially as they are both pursuing careers in law. Kim and Park are both undocumented students.

Some undocumented students can receive DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, which can prevent them from possible deportation as well as the right to work in the US. 

“This scholarship is going towards paying my tuition fees and help further my career as a law student and I would like to thank the Minkwon Center for doing this and giving me this opportunity,” said Kim, a DACA student. ” I am lucky to have received DACA status but things are still difficult as we are unable to get federal loans, but as a DACA student I can get a private loan if it can be co signed by an American citizen which of course is not easy as nobody in my family is a citizen. I teach digital marketing Mondays to Thursdays from 6pm to 9:30pm to help pay for my college fees and if I did not receive this scholarship I would be relying on that job to pay for the bare necessities.” 

Although his DACA status does provide some protection, as undocumented students Kim and Park face a number of challenges when it comes to accessing education. 

Unlike Kim, Park does not have DACA status.

“I came here with my parents when I was 11. DACA does provide some relief to undocumented people, but it needs to be renewed every two years and in order to be eligible, you have to have been in the United States continuously since 2007. As I came in 2011, I am not eligible to receive DACA status,” Park explained.

“I am currently a first-year law student and although I do get a high number of scholarships, it doesn’t cover the entire cost of my tuition. The money I will receive from this scholarship will help to alleviate some of the financial burdens I face,” Park added. “I am really grateful to the Minkwon Center for Community Action for awarding me this scholarship because as an undocumented student the opportunities for scholarships are slim.”

Dahe Lee, the youth organizer at the Minkwon Center,  awarded the students with their scholarships.

The scholarship program was started last year by a member of the community center, who donated $50,000. The center wanted to create a scholarship specifically for undocumented students who are pursuing a career in law.

“There are already so many obstacles for undocumented students to access education so we really felt compelled to create a financial opportunity for those who want to start their law careers,” Lee said. “We will fight for citizenship for all undocumented individuals so that they are able to have governmental resources available to them without having to rely on external sources.”

Other recipients of this scholarship include Sarah Kim and Jiuk Park, but they were unable to attend the ceremony on the day.

Minkwon Center for Community Action is located at 133-29 41st Ave. in Flushing. Established in 1984, the center aids the Korean American community with education, civic participation, immigrant rights, social services and culture.