Mariposas Undocumented Alliance at the capitol

Five members of the MUA testify for undocumented students to access loans



From left to right: Alondra Mungz, Gabby Rodriguez-Garcilazo, Linda Vargas, Mayra Angel, Yuleidy Rodriguez at the capitol to lobby for undocumented students in Washington state.

“I always grew up with the mentality that education is the one thing they can’t take away from you. They can take your rights, your property, but never the knowledge you acquire,” said Yuleidy Rodriguez, a WSU junior political science major and member of the Mariposas Undocumented Alliance (MUA).

Rodriguez and four other MUA members testified for Senate Bill-6561 on Jan. 30 at Olympia for Coug Day at the Capitol. The bill would enable undocumented students in the state of Washington to have access to loans for undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Rodriguez said she wants to eventually apply for law school and she does not want to burden her mother with financial help. Rodriguez said she would rather support herself through law school by having access to loans which undocumented students like her do not currently have access to.

“For me, my mother is everything and each day I see a powerful woman working multiple jobs,” she said. “Sometimes even 20-hour shifts during the summer to put food on the table for me and my siblings and also to give us the education we deserve.”

Rodriguez’s parents moved to Yakima when she was 2 years old due to poor economic conditions. They hoped that moving to America would be the best move for their future, she said.

She said her parents divorced when she was 5 years old. She was raised primarily by her mother who she considers the biggest role model in her life, Rodriguez said.

Marcela Pattinson, director of Undocumented Initiatives, said MUA members took initiative and approached her with the idea about testifying. Pattinson said she wholeheartedly supported this and is proud of the MUA members for speaking at the capitol.

“I am just here to put the infrastructure in place and educate them about their rights,” she said. “In return the students form the soul of the organization.”

She said WSU gave her a sense of belonging. Her position gives her the opportunity to build programs and help students.

“There is so much independence in the undocumented community,” she said. “All I wish for is that we work together as a community.”

MUA is a student run organization on campus which reaches out to undocumented students, she said. The group focuses on improving leadership development and mental health.

Rodriguez said she actively participates in many clubs on campus, but the one that is closest to her heart is MUA.

Mariposas is Spanish for butterflies, she said. The name of the club signifies how the Monarch butterfly migrates from the south to the north each year for better environmental conditions. This is a metaphor a lot to the members of the MUA relate to since all of them migrated from Mexico hoping for a better life, she said.

“I hope one day I am as powerful of a woman that my mother was and make her proud of what I’ve become and the only way to achieve that is by using the power of education,” Rodriguez said.