UNT students and alumna receive grant to study how to support undocumented students

University of North Texas Higher Education Program doctoral candidates Nick Tapia-Fuselier, Kelsey Kunkle and alumna Catherine Olivarez recently received a research grant for their proposed study involving undocumented students— Investigating Student Affairs Professionals’ Knowledge, Awareness and Skills in Supporting Undocumented/DACAmented Students– from Region III of NASPA-Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education.

“Educational research helps improve educational policies and practices. There are many barriers to enrollment, retention and completion within higher education,” said Uyen Tran-Parsons, a senior lecturer in the higher education program. “There is a lot of misinformation floating through the world about what it means to be an undocumented student. It’s educational research that helps us expand our knowledge and address the gaps that are preventing students from getting their college degrees.”

According to Tapia-Fuselier, Texas currently serves approximately 121,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients, which is the second-largest DACA population behind California

“In 2001, Texas was the first state to pass legislation granting undocumented students access to in-state resident tuition as well as the opportunity to receive state financial aid,” said Tapia-Fuselier, “Although these policies are an important step in supporting undocumented students, undocumented students continue to face discrimination on campus and have reported facing staff and faculty who are uninformed, ill-equipped and insensitive to undocumented students’ needs.”

The UNT College of Education is committed to overcoming obstacles in education to serve a global community and make education equally accessible through research and inclusive curriculum, including bilingual and ESL certifications.

“The UNT College of Education graduates between 40 and 50 bilingual teachers and approximately 200 ESL certified teachers each year,” said Rossana Boyd, director of the bilingual/ESL teacher education program. “Both groups seek these certifications to serve English learners whose dominant language is other than English.”


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