Anna-Catherine Kueng ~ Assistant Editor
In March, an email was sent by Hornet Info inviting Hornets to a “lecture by Dr. Dannette Gomez-Beane, sponsored by SGA and Undocuweek: ‘UndocuAlly Lecture: Things Higher-Ed can do to support undocumented students.”
“Undocuweek was an activism initiative from Student Government Association where we promoted migration reform by having a guest speaker and asking students to write letters to state representatives to have them urge for this reform. We also promoted it with sidewalk drawings, t-shirts, stickers, and a video. This is the first year,” said SGA Student Body President, Lauren Farrell.
The lecture was held on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in Hopwood Auditorium at 7:00 p.m.. According to the Virginia Tech website, Gomez-Beane is “a graduate of Hollins University and Virginia Tech…Dannette started her career as an admissions counselor in 2002. Since, she has worked for Total Action for Progress, AmeriCorps College Summit, and as an academic advisor for the Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies. Most recently she served as the Director of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives for the Grad School.”
In her lecture, Gomez-Beane frequently spoke about Luisa Burgos, an undocumented student from Tarija, Bolivia, who Gomez-Beane has been a sponsor to over the years. Burgos graduated from Virginia Tech with a Masters of Arts in Education. Burgos is usually the co-presenter with Gomez-Beane for the UndocuAlly lecture, but she was unable to attend Tuesday.
“If undocumented students share with you their status, that is a gift and responsibility to you. There is a lot of nervousness even applying for DACA, especially in today’s political climate. They are scared of what will happen once they put their undocumented status out there. Do not feel like you are a savior. I may have sponsored Luisa because I was in the position where I could, but Luisa did all the work,” said Gomez-Beane.
In addition to giving information about the DREAM Act and DACA, Gomez-Beane encouraged audience members to be an ally for undocumented students and to support them, saying, “You now have a responsibility. You cannot walk out of these doors saying you did not know. How are you going to use your skills learned at the University of Lynchburg to assist vulnerable students and families?”
Lupita Rodriguez, Graduate Assistant for the Office of Equity and Inclusion, said, “I met Dr. Gomez-Beane at the 2017 Virginia Counselors Association (VCA) Convention in Hot Springs, VA. She presented with a co-speaker Luisa Burgos, who personalized the DACA legislation situation in an impactful way. I knew from that point that I wanted to form a relationship with them in order to bring their presentation to more people.”
When asked why it is important that U of L recognizes Undocuweek, Rodriguez said, “I think it is important for all young adults to become educated about this topic because it relates to all of us.”
Farrell added, “I hope that students look at this issue through a more humanitarian viewpoint than a political one. The issue is not black and white and I hope that students understand that. This is an issue that concerns college students, and especially with everything happening at the border, it is important that our students that are affected know that they are being seen.”