University of Illinois launches Mexico Initiative

By: Pari Apostolakos

ROXANNE PATINO IS A FIRST GENERATION MEXICAN-AMERICAN JUNIOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS. WITH PARENTS FROM GUERRERO, MEXICO HER HERITAGE IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF HER IDENTITY. 

“I PROUDLY REPRESENT MY NAME AND MY ROOTS,” PATINO SAID.

THIS YEAR SHE WAS APPROACHED BY I-MMAS, THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM MEXICAN AND MEXICAN AMERICAN STUDENT INITIATIVE, TO SHARE HER EXPERIENCE. 

“I WAS NEVER ACTUALLY ASKED WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A FIRST GENERATION MEXICAN AMERICAN STUDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS,” SHE SAYS. “ IT WAS KIND OF LIKE A CULTURE SHOCK”

I-MMAS IS AN INITIATIVE LAUNCHED BY UNIVERSITY SYSTEM PRESIDENT TIM KILLEEN THIS MONTH TO INCREASE RELATIONSHIPS WITH MEXICO. IT SEEKS TO BRING IN MORE STUDENTS FROM MEXICO TO THE SYSTEM.

THIS INITIATIVE COMES AT THE SAME TIME THAT THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION SENDS A COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL TO CONGRESS. THE WHITE HOUSE SAYS THE BILL MAKES IT EASIER FOR GRADUATES OF U.S. UNIVERSITIES WITH ADVANCED STEM DEGREES TO STAY IN THE UNITED STATES. 

PATINO WAS DRAWN TO THE I-MMAS MISSION RIGHT AWAY.  EVEN IN ITS INFANCY, PATINO HAS HIGH HOPES FOR THE FUTURE OF I-MMAS. 

“ALL LATINOS DESERVE THIS OPPORTUNITY,” SHE SAID.