Los Angeles, Calif. – Undocumented students attending the University of California, Berkeley, on Wednesday expressed their happiness after receiving a $1 million donation for scholarships from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund.
"We students at Berkeley who dream of being professionals are very happy because this Christmas gift is a chance to develop ourselves as students, even though we may not have documents," Uriel Rivers, a junior, told Efe.
"The donated money is a symbol of justice for all those who have worked hard to make this possible, particularly for students like me who have had to go through difficult times to be in school and now those who are accepted at Berkeley are going to have the chance to fully develop themselves, he said.
The Haas Fund on Tuesday informed UC Berkeley of the $1 million donation to aid 200 students from 20 countries.
"I've been paying for my studies with small scholarships from private entities, and to pay for my food, rent and books I look for part-time jobs where they don't ask me for documents," said the 23-year-old Rivera, who emigrated in 2006 to the United States to get away from the violence in Mexico.
Last year, the California Senate approved bills making public scholarships available to many undocumented students who entered the United States when they were small children.
The people who benefit from the Haas Fund gift will be students who are not eligible for federal Pell grants.
Ruben Canedo, research coordinator for the Educational Opportunity Program at UC Berkeley also expressed his satisfaction with the donation.
"It's an enormous happiness that we feel with the money that the foundation sent us and on campus we all feel rejuvenated," Canedo said.
"Our fight (on behalf of) undocumented students has been going on for 20 years and today we're getting this money ... which is the largest amount of money that a university has received for its undocumented students in the whole history of the United States," he emphasized.