Campus alumni endow scholarship for undocumented students

Jose Luis Bedolla/Courtesy

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Husband and wife and campus alumni José Luis Bedolla and Lisa García Bedolla have endowed the Miguel and Elvira Bedolla Scholarship to support undocumented students at UC Berkeley.

The scholarship is named after José Luis Bedolla’s parents, who supported him while he was an undocumented student on campus.

The couple has committed to paying $100,000 to endow the scholarship. Payout will begin once they reach $50,000 of endowment.

The endowment will provide scholarships to undocumented campus students who are “enrolled full-time and meet the university’s academic and financial need criteria,” according to Ricardo Fouster, campus corporate and foundation relations officer.

The fund was established in December 2016. So far, one student has received the scholarship. Lisa García Bedolla did not disclose the student recipient in order to protect their undocumented status.

The couple has paid an additional $500 this year in order to immediately support the student, according to Lisa García Bedolla.

“How many students you can help depends on the size of the endowment,” Lisa García Bedolla said. “We hope people will give to the scholarship so that we can help more students.”

According to Fouster, the scholarship will expand to include two scholarships ranging from $800 to $1,000 awarded annually. This may, however, vary depending on the performance of the endowment principal, or seed money.

While the endowment principal is a relatively small amount of money, José Luis Bedolla sees the endowment as a symbolic action that shows that undocumented students are valued and belong in this campus community, according to a Berkeley philanthropy press newsletter.

José Luis Bedolla stated in the newsletter that there are “roadblocks for students, particularly Dreamers” and that these roadblocks are “much greater than they were before” when he attended UC Berkeley in the late ’80s.

In addition to being a campus alumna, Lisa García Bedolla is also a campus professor of education and political science. She said she sees many students looking for help accessing financial aid, but that undocumented students are often barred from accessing these resources.

“We wanted to support those students we feel are in most need on campus — undocumented students,” Lisa García Bedolla said. “The goal was to help support their success at Cal and send the message that they are an important and valued part of the Berkeley campus community.”

ASUC Senator Benyamin bin Mohd Yusof, who identifies as a Filipinx Southeast Asian undocumented student, added that additional resources such as this scholarship will be great for undocumented students and help them with paying certain expenses such as housing, tuition and food.

“Most of the funding for undocumented students is donor-based and it’s great to see an additional source for funding,” Yusof said. “I’m hopeful the endowment will expand in the future.”

Contact Robin Hyun at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @robinnhyun.