Beat the Odds Scholar: Support Tuition Equity

College & Career Readiness | 02/08/2018

Toya Fick
Executive Director, Stand for Children Oregon

The entire Stand family is so proud of Beat the Odds scholarship winner Edith Gomez Navarrete, who testified in favor of Tuition Equity for the second time to the Senate Education Committee yesterday. Edith faced astronomical international tuition rates because she was brought to America without documentation when she was one year old. Here’s how Edith shared her own story with lawmakers yesterday:

I was brought here illegally from Mexico at age 1. I don’t remember Mexico, and Oregon is the only home I have ever known. I attended my local schools in the Eugene 4j school district and graduated from Churchill High School in 2012. I graduated with honors and was one of only 5 students in my class to earn the full IB – International Baccalaureate – Diploma.

In 2012, when I was first accepted at Oregon State and then the University of Oregon, I was told I would have to pay International Student Tuition of close to $30,000 a year. I was already living on my own and supporting myself. It would have been impossible to pay $120,000 for an undergraduate degree plus living costs. Undocumented students are ineligible for most scholarships, no matter how hard we work or how strong our academic record, because the minimum documentation requirement is permanent residency.

Tuition Equity gave Edith the confidence she needed to succeed. She managed to cut two-thirds of her tuition costs, allowing her to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the University of Oregon in October of 2016, and a Master’s Degree in Education from the U of O the following spring.

With Tuition Equity, my tuition costs were $8,000 - $9,000 a year. Fortunately, I won a few scholarships, was able to work, and had some help with living expenses from a local minister’s family. In my case, I had an unusual type of Visa, called a “U” Visa, because I was the victim of domestic violence and was removed from my home by DHS. This Visa, at the last moment, qualified me for in-state tuition. But this was not assured, and without the passage of the Tuition Equity bill, I wouldn’t have had the confidence that I could finish my education.

Edith is now a 4th grade teacher, helping the next generation of kids reach their full potential. Edith’s perseverance and determination to succeed despite tremendous obstacles, and her bravery in sharing her story with lawmakers, are truly inspiring. She embodies why every lawmaker should support the Tuition Equity bill (SB 1563).

You can read Edith’s full testimony by clicking here.

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