There is a fantastic editorial on the pages of “The Washington Post” written by a Harvard junior, Dario Guerrero, who is majoring in visual and environmental studies at the university. His editorial is entitled, “I told Harvard I was an undocumented immigrant. They gave me a full scholarship.” What do you think about that headline? If you were ever curious about a highly selective university’s stance on undocumented students, wonder no more. Mr. Guerrero’s story is a case example that demonstrates admissions officers at highly selective colleges often go to bat for undocumented applicants. Perhaps it’s their form of civil disobedience. How Henry David Thoreau of them, right?
In his editorial, Mr. Guerrero writes, “I applied to every Ivy League school, the University of Chicago, Georgetown, Wesleyan, Washington and Lee, and College of the Atlantic. On Jan. 11, as I sat in the library doing research for a government class project, I got a call from a Massachusetts area code. The Harvard Admissions Committee had voted to send me a likely letter of admission…And they gave me a full ride. This meant I wouldn’t have to worry about student loans or quarterly tuition payments; that I always had a place to stay away from home; that I could travel every semester, on Harvard’s dime, back to California; that my parents would never have to worry whether I’d finish school. Those are luxuries few people, documented or not, ever have. I used to think that being undocumented was a disadvantage to me. I used to mourn the fact that I was different. But ultimately I realize that it was because of, not in spite of, my identity — as an undocumented Chicano — that I was [sic] been able to do what I did. Being something different in the socioeconomic fabric of the United States gave me the perspective I have.”
Ivy Coach salutes Harvard University for offering a slot to Dario Guerrero, a student who, to paraphrase his own words, is who he is because of — not in spite of — being an undocumented American. It’s these very people who make America better. Harvard could have admitted him and not offered him full financial aid to make themselves feel good. But then he wouldn’t have been able to attend. They not only admitted him. They offered him full financial aid. And that says a lot about the fabric of the Harvard admissions office.