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Johana Mejias explains how her dream of becoming a physician can now be reached.
Loyola University Chicago Medical School Welcomes DREAMers in Class of 2018

August 22, 2014 — A year after Loyola University Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine became the first medical school in the country to allow undocumented students (“DREAMers”) to apply, the school welcomed seven DREAMers to the Class of 2018. The DREAMers attended a first-day celebratory event with Stritch faculty, fellow students, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin on August 4. 

Loyola’s medical school had amended its admissions policies to include qualified students who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and are legally recognized U.S. residents. The status, created by the Obama administration in 2012, defers deportation proceedings against undocumented residents no older than 30 who came to the U.S. as children. Additionally, DACA status allows undocumented residents to obtain a work permit. For medical students, the ability to work in the United States is crucial for landing a paid residency. 

To help these students cover $200,000 for four years of tuition and fees, a large obstacle for most DACA students because of their ineligibility for federal aid, the Illinois Finance Authority issued $390,000 in interest-free loans to cover the first year of school for the seven students at Loyola. In exchange, they must work in underserved areas in the state after they finish their training.

“Our social justice tradition called us to take a leadership role in offering educational opportunities to underserved groups, including qualified applicants with DACA status. We also believe that the mission to train a talented and diverse physician workforce should motivate other medical schools to do the same. The opportunities are now much greater than the barriers,” said Linda Brubaker, dean and chief diversity officer of the Stritch School of Medicine.

Jesuits and Jesuit institutions have been active in pushing Congress to support humane immigration reform. Recently, more than 1,200 graduates of Jesuit institutions signed a petition to urge Congressional members who went to Jesuit schools to enact fair reform on the issue. The Jesuits and other faith-based organizations, as well as Fr. Thomas H. Smolich, SJ, former president of the Jesuit Conference, sent letters asking Congress to protect the Central American children crossing the U.S. border.

For more on the Stritch School of Medicine’s commitment to “DREAMers” and DACA status, visit stritch.LUC.edu/DACA. [Sources: Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division, ThinkProgress, Crain's Chicago Business]


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