First Latino DACA recipient to win Rhodes Scholarship

Education is an important part of our lives. Some of us move on to get multiple degrees and some of us graduate from a 4-year university and that’s it. For some however, it’s difficult to get an education. This is why I was pleased to find out that undocumented immigrant Santiago Potes is the first Latino DACA recipient to be awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Simply put, this is amazing.

A couple of week ago, the Rhodes Trust announced that Potes, a 2020 graduate of Columbia University in New York, would be one of the 2021 Rhodes Scholars. Like many immigrant families, his family did not go to college. Rotes says on cnn.com, “My parents didn’t go to college. My parents had me when they were 16 years old.”

The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and possibly the most prestigious international scholarship program, enabling outstanding young people from around the world to study at the University of Oxford.

According to the Rhodes Scholarship website, the four criteria which governed the selection of Rhodes Scholars in 1902 are still the guiding criteria for the selection of Rhodes Scholars:

  1. literary and scholastic attainments (academic excellence)
  2. energy to use one’s talents to the full (as demonstrated by mastery in areas such as sports, music, debate, dance, theatre, and artistic pursuits, particularly where teamwork is involved)
  3. truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship
  4. moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protests people from deportation. The purpose of DACA is to protect eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. DACA gives young undocumented immigrants: 1) protection from deportation, and 2) a work permit.

According to Immigrants Rising, the DACA program remains in place and people can continue to renew. They suggest speaking with an immigration legal service provider about renewing your DACA if it will expire in 2020. Unfortunately, those who have never had DACA still cannot apply to the program.

I don’t even believe I knew about the Rhodes Scholarship when I was in high school. The scholarship is for two years in the first instance and covers Oxford University (and College) fees as well as providing an annual stipend. Potes is one example of someone who came to the country unwillingly but made it his mission to make it count. Like many of us, our parents came to this country for a better opportunity, and that’s what Potes did and is continuing to do.

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