Texas Tech University

Define American

The Texas Tech Chapter of Define American, a campus organization that creates a community for undocumented students, was nominated as the Define American College Chapter of the Year, placing second overall.

Texas Tech is home to the first collegiate chapter of Define American. In fall of 2013, Aliza Wong, associate professor of History and associate dean in the Texas Tech Honors College, invited journalist and CEO of Define American, Jose Antonio Vargas, to speak as part of the Open Teaching Concepts Series. Saba Nafees, a current Texas Tech graduate student, shared her story with Vargas and invited him to return in the spring of 2014 for a screening of his documentary, "Documented."

"It was a hugely successful event and many students who came realized the story behind the immigration issue," Nafees said. "There were a few undocumented students in the crowd who came forward for the first time and with tears exclaimed that they also feel just as American as we all do."

Saba Nafees

This event inspired Vargas to create college chapters across the nation. Nafees and Wong continued to spread the word of Define American. The chapter, with the help of other student organizations, has been able to host various events across campus. At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, the Texas Tech Chapter of Define American was registered as an official student organization.

The ultimate goal of the chapter is to create a welcoming and safe environment for undocumented students. The organization creates a community where students can focus on education and success without having to worry about negative criticism. The chapter hosts various events to raise awareness for the need for local departments and programs that handle sensitive situations regarding documentation status.

"I can personally say that Define American has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and realize the importance behind our mission," said Christopher Ponce, current president of the chapter. "Define American continues to remind me that one voice is louder than no voice."

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