Gustavo Madrigal, one of the 6 students is from Griffin, Georgia. ” The Graduates” a two-part film by Independent Lens exploring pressing issues on education can be watched at PBS.
Gustavo started school in the U.S. in fifth grade, after being brought from Mexico by his undocumented parents. They emphasized academics and set high standards, but Gustavo’s undocumented status presented serious barriers to attending college. Feeling hopeless about his future, he contemplated dropping out. But his parents and friends urged him to finish school, even if it meant not being able to attend college despite having excellent grades. Gustavo graduated and took a job at a gas station.
Growing up in the small town of Griffin, he thought he might be the only one who was undocumented, but while searching online for ways to get back to school, he stumbled upon information about the DREAM Act. Energized by his peers in the undocumented community, Gustavo became an activist himself, advocating for passage of the DREAM Act. Through other activists, he learned about Freedom University in Georgia, a project in which university professors donate their time to teach college-level courses to students who want to go to college, but can’t because of their immigration status. With their help, Gustavo was accepted to and received a full scholarship from a four-year university in New England, where he’s currently in his sophomore year.