Yazmin Bruno Valdez is a first-year transfer student to Rockhurst University studying political science. Yazmin is an active student engaged in the greater Kansas City community and on campus in student organizations like Voices for Justice and Unity. Since arriving on campus in August, Yazmin has looked for opportunities to educate peers about the issues related to immigration, education, and equity. Yazmin’s activism and commitment to open doors for others are respected by her peers and faculty. In her first semester at Rockhurst, she was invited to lead a workshop about immigration for her peers in the social justice student organization, Voices for Justice, so that they may understand the issues more deeply. Yazmin connects her lived experience with that of research to bring to life the issues and opportunities to intervene. In the greater Kansas City community, Yazmin has worked with advocacy groups, immigration attorneys, and nonprofit organizations to align efforts and encourage collaboration.
I have had a difficult college journey due to the lack of educational opportunities and resources due to my immigration status. In high school, I was turned away from every booth at our college fair and offered minimal assistance to pursue higher education as an undocumented student. I soon joined The Kansas Missouri Dream Alliance, a local organization focused on advocating for undocumented and DACA students, I realized my purpose was higher than my individual journey. I have joined national immigration advocacy networks and marched in Washington D.C. for comprehensive reform. I compiled my research and created the Undocumented-Students Webinar, which is a program that provides extensive resources for all students to continue their education after high school regardless of their legal status. Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation hired me to use my program and college expertise and together we have advised more than 1,000 students across the Kansas City area. I have also brought my organizing and advocacy work on campus, as I have trained our Voices for Justice club members about immigration issues. I believe my commitment to education and equity is important because it has helped create bridges and destroy barriers for members of my community.