Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Dream Success Center were (l-r) center director Rafael Topete, President Jane Close Conoley, and CSULB students Elizabeth Zambrano and Joseph Phillips. Photo by Kevin Tran
With the opening of the Dream Success Center at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) this week, undocumented and AB540 students now have a place to call their own. The center, located in newly dedicated Room 309 of the University Student Union (USU), will provide support and services that help meet some of their unique needs.
The grand opening and ribbon-cutting event, which took place on the terrace of the USU, was attended by approximately 200 individuals, including representatives from Rep. Alan Lowenthal’s (D-47th District) and Sen. Ricardo Lara’s (D-33rd District) offices, who presented officials with certificates of recognition in honor of the day.
“These students face unique challenges both in and out of higher education, and it is crucial for us to provide institutional support in their educational endeavors,” said CSULB’s Dream Success Center Coordinator Edgar Romo, who was hired last fall. “A center serves as not only a physical space dedicated to their needs as students, but as a commitment from the university to prioritize student success.”
The CSULB center is the fourth such one to open within the California State University (CSU) system’s 23 campuses to go along with those at Cal State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State L.A.
“We have to be always watchful of insuring that every group in our university get the support they need to be successful,” said CSULB President Jane Close Conoley while speaking at the event. “The task, of course, is ahead of us. We’ve opened the center and now it’s for us to make it real, to make it a strong support for each student who takes advantage of having a place of their own where they can connect with one another.”
It is estimated that there are some 650 AB540 and/or undocumented students at CSULB. The Dream Success Center will offer them referrals to financial assistance, information on programs and services designed to improve retention and graduation rates and a place where students can connect with one another. The center also will provide computers, career development and other academic services.
Last March, CSULB’s Associated Students, Inc. passed a resolution in support of creating a resource center for undocumented students. In April 2014, undocumented student leaders met with then Interim CSULB President Donald Para and recently appointed President Conoley to discuss steps to be taken to address undocumented student concerns.
In November, CSULB officials hired Romo as the Dream student success coordinator and later that month, the University Student Union Board of Trustees voted in favor of dedicating a room in the student union to serve as the Dream Success Center, which led to today’s event.
“As a student it’s so hard to navigate through the myriad of resources that are available on campus,” said Jorge Sandoval Ocampo, an undocumented student, who transferred to CSULB from Santa Ana College. “When I saw the Dream Success Center I thought to myself, ‘Every time I go into that center I’m going to be one step closer to success.’ What is being done right now is working, it’s helping me succeed and this center is another step in the right direction.”