In this interview, we hear from Laura Bohorquez, UMD’s Undocumented Student Program Coordinator, about on-campus resources for terps whose lives are touched personally by matters connected to immigration. She shares practical resources for crises, as well as efforts connected to building community and a sense of belonging here at UMD. Read on for more information about the Undocumented Student Program!
TTC: Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with the Terps Take Care newsletter. Your work is so important to our students and our community. Let’s get started! In general, how would you describe your position as supporting the wellness of UMD students?
- LB: The University of Maryland is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all, including immigrants. Undocumented students, refugees, TPS recipients,DACA recipients, and students, staff, and faculty that are part of mixed-immigration status families often face barriers and challenges as they navigate campus policies that require support services that address their unique needs. The Undocumented Student Program provides students with a sense of community and belonging through programs and events that help build community and uplift students access to on and off-campus resources. USP also strives to uplift that all people, including immigrants are humans that deserve dignity, respect, and well-being.
TTC: Thank you, and thank you for helping create and maintain that sense of belonging. Can you please share with us what some of the specific services or programs that you offer are – and specifically, those that support mental health?
- LB: We organize community dinners, provide support to the creating of an immigrant student registered organization as well as information via social media and newsletter focusing on mental health, resilience, and advocacy. We also share resources on how to use the counseling center, campus pantry, crisis and emergency meal funds.
TTC: That all sounds really, really wonderful and inviting. So, can you tell us how this program was created?
- LB: The Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA), the Asian American Studies Program (AAST), and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion partnered to create the Undocumented Student Program Coordinator role that is currently housed in the STAMP Engagement Office. Over the last three years, these departments have partnered with other UMD departments and allies to increase institutional support for undocumented students, providing training and advising related to financial aid, residency reclassification, and admissions.
TTC: What a powerful coalition. We’re super-glad they were able to come together to create this role. as we begin to wrap up, tell us – is there one thing would you most want students to know? It could be about your role, about the program, or about their own wellbeing.
- LB: There is a team of staff and faculty know as the rapid response team on campus who are willing to and have the capacity to help you but we need to know what your needs are. Never doubt the help or support that we may be able to provide.
TTC: That’s so encouraging, and I imagine it can be a huge relief for our students impacted by immigration status. So, with everything you’re doing with the Undocumented Student Program, what do you do to maintain your own mental health, balance, and comprehensive wellbeing?
- LB: I started to make it a goal to move for at least 1 mile a day. Some days it has been running, others having walking meetings, and sometimes it , basketball and or stretching. I also joined a Mexican Folklorico dance team two years ago that has encouraged me to use let my body and mind explore other avenues of wellbeing.
TTC: Thank you so much for sharing that. Second-to-last question: how can students access the services you and your office provide?
- LB: The Undocumented Student Program is located in the Engagement Suite in Rm 0110 (Stamp Building). You can learn more about our resources via our Instagram- umdundoc and website- undocumented.umd.edu and or email us at email@example.com.
TTC: Thank you so much for everything you’ve been willing to share. And finally – is there anything else you think students should know?
- LB: Your humanity matters, You and your families are more than your status, You are welcomed here, You are resilience, You are allowed to process in whatever way is healthiest for you, You have a community at UMD, MD, and one nationally fighting with and for you, You are love and are loved, You are enough.