Sheena Carey explores the inspiring journey of Fatima Jimenez Gonzalez, a vibrant Latina, a Dreamer, and a first-generation immigrant. Fatima opens up about her challenges, her hopes, and her dreams for the future.
As she prepares to embark on her teaching career, hear her discuss her concerns about the profession and her hopes for herself and for Marquette. Feel the strength and determination in her voice as she speaks up for herself and other Dreamers.
Remember, this is not just a story. It's a testament to the beautiful diversity of our community. Tune in to feel inspired, challenged, and hopeful all at once.
04:30 - We've been doing a lot of advocacy in terms of really making our presence known on campus and teaching other people. You'd be surprised. A lot of people don't know what a Dreamer is. They don't know what DACA is. They barely know what undocumented means, which is really ridiculous in this day and age. But we've been able to really educate our Marquette community and just overall feel like more people see us.
13:55 - I hope that other people realize that your silence isn't going to protect you. And so, you might as well say what you want and you might as well speak up for yourself. Say what makes you uncomfortable, what's happening, and try to seek help in that way, if that makes sense.
16:36 - I think it's important for them to realize everybody's story is different, and everybody's story is unique, and everybody's story is important. And so, I would like to say that I know my story is important, and I know that my story is meaningful, and I hope that they find some truth in that as well.
What aspects of that story do you want to share with us today?
01:30 - I'm here to represent not just first-generation students, Latinas, but most importantly, my story as an undocumented immigrant, and how I've been able to persevere as a dreamer, not only in college, but in life in general.
06:16 - We started the pitch by stating a lot of the things that undocumented immigrants can't do, so we had one person pop up and say, "Undocumented immigrants can't do this," and then someone else stood up, "and they can't do this." And so, I think it really opened the eyes of everyone in the crowd.
Where do you come from? Are you a Milwaukee native?
01:47 - I've grown up in Milwaukee, pretty much lived here my entire life, but I was born in Mexico. I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco. And I came over here just under the age of two, but I've lived in Milwaukee, grown up here, gone to school here, worked here.
How did you get on this path?
02:20 - Everyone who is older than me was or is also undocumented or now documented. And so, I've been able to see them persevere through their status. And also my parents have always been very pro education. And so, my path has always been through education. And I think that's why I have fallen into the education field in terms of what I want to do in the future as well.
What are some of the challenges you've faced being an undocumented individual in Milwaukee, especially at Marquette?
02:59 - A lot of the challenges I face include not being able to apply to certain programs, especially within the education field. A lot of those require you to either be a citizen or have some type of like federal documentation.
You've created some programs, some opportunities for other folks like yourself. Talk a little bit about those.
04:01 -At Marquette, we started the first official Dreamers Group, and so we're called Marquette Dreamers. So, it's a group of students who welcome not just undocumented students, but anyone with DACA, anyone that comes from mixed status families or anyone that wants to be an ally to our community.
What was the program you started for undocumented students who couldn't participate in, say, paid internship programs?
05:14 - We pitched through the social impact track and we really wanted to find a way to give the students who identify like us, but are still at more of a disadvantage because they don't have DACA, to be able to receive professional work experiences, and really get a taste for what their life could be if they didn't have this obstacle of getting a work permit, just to kind of keep them encouraged.
At this point, no one's been placed in programs?
06:46 - No. We're hoping to pilot the program by the summertime.
What ways has the mural project resonated for you?
07:20 - It tries to highlight the stories of women who are systematically made invisible. And I think, not only as a Latina, but especially as an undocumented person, our community is often made invisible. And I think people often forget what it's like to live as someone who doesn't have papers or who is undocumented. And so, I think that's one of the main things that resonates with me in terms of this project of really just making our voice be heard and having people see us.
What's been Marquette's impact on the lives of women of color on this campus?
08:26 - I would say Marquette does offer a lot of opportunities for women to take charge and be leaders. It's a little harder for me to identify. I went to an all girls schools for middle school and high school. And so, I've always been in a mentality of like women can do anything and women take charge because that's what I've experienced.
What women of color have served as inspirations for you?
09:22 - I would say my mom is my biggest inspiration. I mean, like I said, she's a mother of eight, immigrated. She's really prospered in this country and has been able to give us a beautiful life despite all the challenges that have been thrown in her face.
09:51 - All the professors I've had who are people of color have always been my favorite, and I think it's because it's easier for me to identify with them. And so, I definitely see myself in them, specifically because I want to enter the education field.
How do you understand or experience or practice wellness and healing?
10:33 - I'd say my biggest way of taking care of myself and my mental health is really talking about things. And so, it's funny to me saying that because I'm a big chatterbox. I'm a very loud person. I like to talk but that's also the way that I let things out and vent.
What do you do though to take care of yourself? What are some of the things that you do that rejuvenate you, re-energize you, and give you an opportunity to decompress?
11:46 - I like to be more myself a lot. So, taking time to step away from everyone and everything to just kind of center myself and really get into a mentality of like, "Okay, how am I actually feeling? What do I want to come out of this?" Just taking time to reflect. So, I think reflecting is one of the ways that I like to take care of myself.
Are you pretty regular at doing that or do you have to remind yourself, or do you get to the brink and go, "Oh, wait a minute, I need to do something?"
12:22 - I definitely don't do it as often as I should. I'm a person that likes to keep busy and also I like to take on a lot of responsibility just because I like to help. I want to do as much as possible so I'm always going to say, "Yes I can help with this. I can do that." And so, sometimes it becomes very overwhelming.
What impact do you hope to have on other women of color, those who are following behind you, those you might meet, and those maybe who have already gone on ahead, but kind of need a little support?
13:29 - I think what I would most like to inspire other people to do is to really speak their mind and not be afraid to stand up for themselves. And I know especially as a woman, as a Latina, as a first-generation immigrant, it's something that's really difficult for most of us.
What are your hopes for the future? Not only your own, but Marquette, and for the community, and communities that you're working with and that you're a part of?
14:21 - In terms of Marquette, I really hope that they do a better job of supporting their Dreamers on campus, and offering resources, not just financially but mental-health wise and work opportunities like we've mentioned.
14:40 - I also would hope that more of our Dreamers feel comfortable coming forward to not necessarily out themselves, but be part of our community and feel supported by it, because I know it can be intimidating to join the group and have people look at you and be like, "Oh, they're a Dreamer. They're undocumented and such."
15:04 - I hope that our society finds a way to welcome more immigrants in. I hope that government finds, opens up a pathway to citizenship or something that will be able to help the millions of undocumented immigrants.
What about your future?
15:26 - I hope that I fall in love with teaching. It's definitely a concern. I mean, I know it's something that I want to do and I know regardless, I want to be in that setting of giving back to my community and helping students and being involved with youth.
What would you like the community to know about you and your journey?
16:17 - I would like to say that as much as I am someone that is willing to tell my story and who is willing to speak out, my story does not define the same story of every other Latina, every other Dreamer, every other first-generation student. I think it's important for them to realize everybody's story is different, and everybody's story is unique, and everybody's story is important.
Fatima Jimenez Gonzalez
The Our Roots Say That We're Sisters Podcast series was recorded and produced by Podcast Town (www.podcasttown.net)