By Isabella Chamberland, Senn Senior
Last February, the Senn Dreamers Club decided to utilize the popular holiday of Valentines day to make a beneficial impact on the Senn Community. They successfully hosted a Valentine’s Day raffle in order to benefit undocumented and refugee students at Senn High School.
Senn High School is one of the most diverse high schools in Chicago, with over 55 countries and 35 languages represented in the student body. Many clubs harboring this diversity flourish within Senn, from cultural clubs to social justice clubs. The Senn Dreamers Club is one of the clubs dedicated to social justice and marginalized groups, using their platform as a school-sponsored club to bring light to the disparities that undocumented students and DACA recipients.
A specific issue that the club wanted to bring light to is the fact that many undocumented students/DACA recipients are not eligible for scholarships and financial aid applications for colleges. For instance, DACA recipients are not eligible to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which is the most used Financial Aid Application in the US. In order to support students who did not have access to forms like the FAFSA, the Dreamers Club put forth a plan to financially support these students.
Melissa Carbajal, a senior at Senn High school and a participant in the Senn Dreamer’s Club recognized this and stated that “there are opportunities that are not available to them [undocumented students/DACA recipents] due to their status, so we want to help as much as we can.”
This passion for helping the community sparked an idea in the club. According to Carbajal, the inspiration to raise money in a Valentine’s Day Raffle was “because we saw convenience in doing a holiday-themed raffle.” After the inspiration for the raffle jump started the project, the club started working on their plan of action. Carbajal stated that, “We were able to discuss what exactly we wanted to raffle off during our meetings.” After the club decided on raffling off a breakable chocolate heart, in true Valentine’s Day fashion, they turned to their technological fluency to advertise and get the word out.
The club utilized their Instagram presence to, according to Carbajal, “branch out and gain as much attention as we could on this raffle.” They advertised that for only $3.00 a ticket, you could receive a Dreamer’s Club sticker, a chance to win a Valentine’s Day treat, and simultaneously support marginalized students at Senn. This social media strategy was quite successful as the club was able to gain over 100 Instagram followers and over 125 raffle tickets were purchased.
This raffle was a huge success and the club was able to raise $441 to support Dreamers/Undocumented Students. Specifically, Carbajal stated that “The proceeds will go towards the undocumented and refugee students of Senn for scholarships and DACA applications.”
This club’s efforts to harbor and support the diversity of students at Senn proves that youth activism is an essential part of Senn High School. In order to further celebrate and support the students, the Senn community should continue to support projects like this Valentine’s Day raffle and social justice club’s youth leaders in the future, and continue to celebrate the progress that has already been made.
To further support Dreamers at Senn and the Dreamer’s Club, Melissa Carbajal suggests that community members should “look out for future fundraisers and support our club, so that we can continue helping.” You can also follow their instagram @senndreamers.