Dream Summer Alumni Spotlight: Hareth Andrade Ayala
Dream Summer Cohorts: 2011, 2012, and 2013
Host Organizations: Education for the Future, National Education Association, AFL-CIO, Washington DC
Hareth Andrade is a fearless immigrant rights activist and poet fighting against the mass deportation and separation of families. In 2012, Hareth launched a national campaign to stop the deportation of her father, collecting more than 5,000 signatures in support of her efforts. She is the founder of the student organization, Dreamers of Virginia, and co-founder of The Dream Project, through which she has pioneered the fight for in-state tuition to make college accessible and affordable to undocumented students. Recently, Hareth was featured in Aloe Blacc’s “Wake Me Up” video, which has gained over 15 million views, and is featured in the new publication by the UCLA Labor Center titled Dreams Deported: Immigrant Youth and Families Resist Deportation.
1) How did you hear about Dream Summer and why did you apply to Dream Summer?
I heard about Dream Summer during high school. When I was seventeen I was doing online research for opportunities available to undocumented students and when I saw the Dream Summer Program I thought that it was too good to be true. Dream Summer was the very first national fellowship program I was going to apply to and thought I would not get in, but my mentor recommended me to apply. I was nervous about applying and nervous because I would be flying from Virginia to California for the very first time in order to attending the opening retreat of Dream Summer. Before Dream Summer, I had founded Dreamers of Virginia. We would meet outside school and we launched petitions, organized sit-ins, attended town hall meetings, and lobbied for the DREAM Act in 2010. After Dream Summer in 2011 I continued my work with Dreamers of Virginia and then I became a part of a group that founded The Dream Project for undocumented students in Northern Virginia. The Dream Project was one of the first groups to provide scholarships to undocumented students and one of the first groups that involved families. My family was part of the organization.
2) What was one thing you learned during your internship?
Dream Summer was a time of transformation for me. The most memorable thing about Dream Summer was that it was the first trip where I got to talk to other immigrant youth all across the country. I got to talk to leaders who were organizing just like my friends were and through them I found out that what I had been doing before Dream Summer was actually organizing. Learning from these leaders helped me as I moved onto college and it helped me as I continued fighting for in-state tuition in Virginia. My favorite memory during Dream Summer was the day that I left for California. I was just turning eighteen and I wasn’t even supposed to get on the plane because DACA did not exist at the time. My mom was very nervous about the trip the whole time; she told me to call her as soon as I landed in LAX. I had given her the wrong time at which I would be landing because of the time differences between Los Angeles and Virginia, so she called one of the Dream Summer coordinators, Delia, nonstop. By the time I arrived at the Labor Center everyone knew my name, which was funny.
3) How has Dream Summer shaped/ helped/ advanced/ provided a platform for you to move forward in your career?
Dream Summer shaped the educational path I wanted to take because when I was in college I was thinking of doing engineering. Because I became part of the immigration conversation through Dream Summer, I was awakened to the realities of the immigrant community and how much help the community needed. I changed my majors to Political Science and International Affairs because these majors would open up ways for me to engage in immigration issues. I took a year break after I received my Associate’s Degree in Political Science and will finish my undergraduate degree in International Affairs this Fall ‘15 semester. Throughout the past few years I have had the opportunity to work with amazing individuals in the movement, like Gaby Pacheco, from whom I have learned immensely. I have had the privilege to walk and converse with Congress members about issues our communities face and bring new ideas to the policy table. I have traveled alongside changemakers when I served on the Board of Directors of United We Dream and have learned about international policy in migration throughout the Department of Labor. The most humbling experience by far has been witnessing the support of the entire nation as we stood together to close my dad’s deportation case and highlight the issue of mass deportation and separation of families.
4) What would your advice be to future Dream Summer interns?
I would advise immigrant youth to be fierce in applying because our community has faced much adversity and the challenge of being in Dream Summer will be worth facing. It is something that they will grow from by being open to the experience. This advice comes from a place where I didn’t find a support group in Virginia and I felt like I wasn’t good enough for Dream Summer. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to make it, but that’s not the truth for Dream Summer. I applied with an open heart and was one of about a hundred youth selected for the first-ever cohort. I would encourage any undocumented individual or ally with the thirst to make a change to apply.
5) What are your future plans?
I know that I want to continue working with immigrant communities and with people around the world who don’t have documents or any sort of documentation. I can also see myself empowering women through education in different countries. I think I have many passions, but my main passion is my family. I think the main driver of my work is the love I see in my family and that is the love that I want others to experience as well.
Note: A big thank you to UCLA student Glafira Lopez for putting together Hareth’s alumni spotlight. This couldn’t have been possible without Glafira’s help!