AOCC 2014 – A Moment to Reflect, Recharge, and Respond

“Fear paralyzes us but we have to turn it around to empower us…to just say, ‘Enough!’” – Gaby Pacheco, AOCC 2014 Keynote Speech

As is the nature of a one-year master’s program, there is a never-ending list of events, workshops, lectures, and conferences beckoning for our attention and participation. Selecting from the vast number of activities can be quite challenging but one event I whole-heartedly recommend to prospective students is the annual HGSE Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC). The AOCC’s mission is to bring together students, scholars, practitioners, and other leaders together to discuss the intersection between education, race, and class. This year’s theme was entitled “From Dreams to Movements: Education, Inequality, and Justice”.  As graduate students, I admit that sometimes I get lost in the pile of essays, group projects, and meetings during the semester and the AOCC was a much-needed surge of inspiration – a reminder to us educators that this is why we are here.

Gaby Pacheco (center) with Professor Roberto Gonzalez and members of the H517 Contemporary Immigration Policy class. (From left to right: Stephany Cuevas, Krystal Rincon, Evelyn Quezada, Prof. Roberto Gonzalez, Gaby Pacheco, Pedro Navarro, Jessica Acosta, Victoria Villalba, Sheila Jackson)

Gaby Pacheco’s keynote speech moved me to tears. An immigrant rights leader and undocumented American, Gaby has played a central role in the immigrant youth movement. In 2010, Gaby and fellow youth immigrants organized the Trail of DREAMs, a march from Miami to Washington, DC in order to urge President Obama to stop separations of families and deportations of Dreamers. Gaby not only shared her courageous story but also touched on the power of community, “the power that we have as human beings to come together.”  Gaby’s speech has motivated me to continue exploring immigration issues not only in my immigration policy class, but across my courses and in my internship work with Boston college youth.

Jessica Acosta is Master’s in Education candidate in the Higher Education Program.  Deeply passionate about issues of race, equity, and college access, Jessica aims to gain knowledge and tools to promote a deeper understanding of multicultural issues and to help students of color strive towards academic success in college and beyond.