Celebrating DREAM Act Sheroes: Tam and Cinthya

They were pioneers and fighters. They not only dared to dream but chased after those dreams with a passion and ferocity that inspired many across the country. And now they are no more, but their dream lives on in our memories, stories and through our resolve to fight on.

The DREAM Act movement is mourning the loss of two young immigrant Ivy-League scholars hailing from California — Tam Tran (27) and Cinthya Felix (26) — who passed away yesterday after a fatal car crash in Maine. They both finished their undergraduate schooling at University of California, Los Angeles, so a memorial
to honor and commemorate their legacy will be held on Monday at the UCLA
Kerckhoff Grand Salon from 3-5 p.m.

Our under-served communities will miss a physician in Cinthya, who was not only a founding member of the undocumented youth group at UCLA (IDEAS), but also the first undocumented student admitted to Columbia University’s School of Public Health in 2007. It was a hard fought battle, especially due to lack of financial resources, yet Cinthya was determined and never backed down. But school wasn’t her passion: it was basketball and serving communities in need.

Tam is probably best known as the DREAM Act student who testified in Congress and had to go into hiding shortly after when ICE retaliated by detaining her parents. She was born to Vietnamese parents in Germany, but neither country would accept her, making her stateless in the United States when she arrived here at the young age of six. Ironically, she was pursuing a PhD in American Studies at Brown with the hope that someday soon this country would recognize her as an American de jure. Yet her real passion was in film-making.

Tam and Cinthya were free spirits who, despite their busy college schedules and tough lives, always found time to have some fun. From playing in the snow at New York’s Central Park to taking on Washington D.C. for DREAM Act lobbying in the Spring to experiencing the beautiful Fall foliage back in New York, they lived all seasons to the fullest. As fate would have it, they were taken from us suddenly and prematurely during one of their road-trips.

While we mourn their loss, we also honor and celebrate the lessons they left for us and their profound impact on so many lives. We shall fight harder than ever before to open the doors wider for undocumented students to attend colleges and universities. And the best way to celebrate and honor both Tam and Cinthya is to escalate our efforts for a cause they both advocated for tirelessly: passage of the federal DREAM Act.

It’s coming.

Photo Credit: Cinthya Felix

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