Proud to be: First-Gen and Undocumented
“I believe that everyone deserves equal opportunities, despite their background or where they come from,” asserts Hana Lee ‘20, MBA ‘22. “Making sure immigrant and undocumented youth can live their lives to their fullest potential is my passion.”
When Hana first came to Holy Names University, she wasn’t so self-assured. As an undocumented, first-generation student, she felt uncertain of her place in the community and lived with a nagging fear that it could all be taken away at any moment. Over time, that changed.
“Eventually, I stepped out and started getting involved,” recalls Hana. “I believed that if I stepped up to share my story, others would know that they are not alone.”
Ineligible for the standard federal or state financial aid, and without other financial resources, Hana had realized that an athletic scholarship was the best way for her to get a college education. In high school she discovered that she was talented in golf, and worked hard to develop her skills. She was soon recruited to play on the HNU women’s golf team.
Two of Hana’s primary mentors and supporters were the Women’s Head Golf Coach Chris Oetinger and Associate Professor Sr. Sophia Park, PhD. “They always guided me and gave me opportunities to become a better me. Every time I struggled with the anxiety and depression that came with being undocumented, they were always there.”
Sr. Sophia invited Hana to share her story with faculty and talk about the unique struggles undocumented students face. After hearing Hana’s story, Assistant Professor Dr. Talia Moore invited Hana to work with other students and host a campus-wide educational event called “UndocUknow.” The event helped to educate community members on what it’s like to be undocumented and how they can be allies.
“I didn’t want other students like me to go through the pain that ignorance causes. I wanted to bring awareness and educate our campus on the issue, and wanted to provide a safe space for students to talk about their obstacles, and share available resources and support services,” explained Hana.
After graduating from HNU with her bachelor’s degree in criminology and sociology, Hana decided to continue her education at HNU in the MBA program.
Hana believes financial education can help break the cycle of poverty and was recently awarded a prestigious scholarship from the Financial Women of San Francisco to help fund her education.
This article appears in the Winter 2022 issue of HNU Today.