The University of Nebraska at Omaha will host Julissa Arce this Wednesday to speak about immigration and her own experiences as an immigrant in America.
Arce is currently the director of public affairs at Define America, an organization dedicated to changing attitudes about immigration through story. Previously, she had a successful career on Wall Street, all while being an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.
She will share her story at 6 p.m. in the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement center, which is free and open to students and the community.
Arce moved from Mexico when she was 11 years old, staying undocumented for 15 years until August of last year. Arce left Wall Street behind to work for Define America and advocate for immigrant rights. She also co-founded the Ascend Educational Fund to provide scholarships for immigrant students.
Elizabeth Blanco works at UNO’s Multicultural Affairs office and helped coordinate the event. She said people from any background will find Arce’s story relatable, no matter how unique everyone’s experiences have been.
“She’s going to be talking about perseverance, success and chasing the American dream,” Blanco said. “So ultimately, regardless of who the speaker is, that applies to all of us.”
Arixa Herrera recently graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and College of Saint Mary, with a degree in biology and post-baccalaureate certification in cytotechnology, and she is also an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.
“I can say from experience that we moved to America because it gives opportunities to everyone,” Herrera said. “Mexico, just like many of the other Latin American countries, do everything possible to keep their population uneducated and unemployed.”
Herrera said she wants people to understand, through her story and Arce’s story, that immigration is an integral part of the country, and those who come to America are simply looking for better options and safety for their families.
“Immigrants just want to afford to live, to have clothes and shoes, to have food on their tables, education maybe for themselves and maybe for their children,” Herrera said. “It’s about having a better life where human rights are not broken.”
Overall, Blanco said Arce’s story can inspire people to persevere and stay determined.
“You may be shut with one door, but you just have to look the other way,” Blanco said. “Where’s that key to open up the next?”
If you go:
Keynote: JULISSA ARCE OF DEFINE AMERICA
What: Julissa Arce of Define America will share her experiences as an immigrant and her success story during her time in America.
When: Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m.
Where: Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, rooms 201/205/209
For More Information: 402-554-6000