Maria Dominguez, a first-grade bilingual teacher at Rodriguez Elementary School, has been chosen by the White House as a Champion of Change for her efforts helping undocumented Austin ISD students apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status.
“Some of my kids come from a one-parent family. Most of them are on free or reduced-cost lunch. Most of their parents come from another country," Dominguez said. "That's very special—when I know that they feel comfortable [and] safe when they come into the classroom.”
Dominguez, herself DACAmented, joins nine other educators from across the United States who will receive the award at the White House on July 24.
During her time at AISD, she has worked with Education Austin to organize citizenship drives, educational forums for parents and DACA clinics alongside other organizations such as United We Dream, the Equal Justice Center and the Mexican Consulate.
"I'm very glad because this was my dream," she said. "I wanted to go back to a school where I could help students who came from the same community that I came from. That's gratifying, to be able to see that you're making a difference in the lives of children."
Since the DACA program began in 2012, more than 650,000 people have received the DACA designation.