Cuesta College’s Monarch Centers are open and available for undocumented students to help them increase motivation and achieve their goals.
The Monarch Centers, mostly known as the Dream Centers, were conditionally open for two years but officially opened on May 15. To celebrate the grand openings, Cuesta College held an open house on May 15 at the SLO campus, and the following day on the North Campus.
Of the 32 campuses that were selected to receive The California Campus Catalyst Fund, Cuesta College was selected with a $125,000 grant. This grant is what made the Monarch Centers possible.
The goal of the Monarch Centers is to provide resources to AB540 and DACA students in a safe environment. Some of the resources the centers offer include getting started as a student at Cuesta College, Dream Act applications, scholarships, career and transfer opportunities, student support services and many more.
The many resources that the centers provide are very hands-on and interactive with students.
“I want students to know that I am here to provide them with all the necessary resources to succeed, to break barriers,” said Estella Vasquez, the Program Coordinator of the Monarch Center. “I want them to see me as a friend, I want students to feel empowered, to know that they matter, often students come here and are too shy or afraid to ask for help because they are not really getting the help they need, I will take them by the hand and guide them through every step.”
The centers are not only providing the resources that students need, but it can also motivate them. Students can walk in and have conversations, make friends and enjoy the campus.
The name Monarch was chosen by the students and staff to pursue the message of safety and comfort.
“Something that I’ve noticed in students who come to the center, is that everyone has the same expression, they feel isolated because they are Mexican,” said Ana Rodriguez, vice president of the Dreamer United Club (translated from Spanish). “They say they think people look at them differently as if it were an immigration status.”
Staff members and the students thought that if the center had a more direct name, such as “Dream Center,” the students would feel uncomfortable and wouldn’t approach the organization.
In addition to the centers, Cuesta also runs the Dreamer United Club, where students gather and talk about ways to improve the Monarch Centers. The club organizes activities such as movie nights, cultural discussions and food events to encourage students to join, make friends and feel like they belong.
The centers are located in room 3111 on Cuesta College’s main SLO campus, and Room N1123 on the North campus.