Undocumented and unafraid: Senior Hector Robledo’s journey to becoming a Newman Civic Fellow

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Hector Robledo once feared his dream of attending college would be derailed by his undocumented status. Not only will he graduate from UNT Dallas in May, Robledo emerged as a committed campus and community leader, earning him the prestigious Newman Civic Fellowship.

This one-year fellowship is awarded to community-committed students from Campus Compact member institutions that support students’ personal, professional and civic development. Robledo is determined to help other students who harbor the same uncertainties about their futures in America, and particularly in the current climate of anti-immigrant sentiment.

Robledo joins former UNT Dallas students Karina Judith Ortega (2017-18) and Lizbeth Morales (2018-19) as Newman Civic Fellows. Member institutions nominate one student leader a year who is deemed to go above and beyond to seek long-term solutions for social issues, inspires and engages others and demonstrates the motivation and potential for effective and long-term civic engagement.

“I am honored and humbled that I was able to receive this reward,” Robledo said. “Being an undocumented student comes with its challenges, however, I persevered by engaging with my community and acknowledging that I am not alone. I serve as a public leader and as a DACA student I defied all odds.

“I have a strong passion for higher education, and students should all have an equal chance in becoming successful in their careers.” 

In his application essay, Robledo wrote: “I began my college journey at Dallas County Community College District and traveled to the National Legislative Summit, which took place in Washington D.C. Here, I approached Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Marc Veasey and had cordial conversations about the importance of DACA. The program granted up to 800,000 undocumented immigrants the ability to work legally in the United States, further their education and helped me to receive four scholarships to obtain my degree. This experience helped me realize how I can use my journey to help other students in similar situations.”

Robledo was accepted into the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2015, securing his ability to continue his education. He said he sees himself attending graduate school with a goal of working as a full-time academic advisor to help students realize their goals.

“As ‘DREAMers,' we are seeking reform," Robledo wrote in his essay. "We belong to this country. We are undocumented and unafraid.”