Growing up Roman Catholic, Lent has always been the most beautiful season in my life. Aside from fasting and prayer, Lent has been a vehicle for truly reflecting on injustice in our society.
For me, the last 12 years working directly with Dreamers and undocumented students at Marquette University have inspired me to go beyond myself by advocating and fighting for the needs of this population. This week’s readings ask us to reflect on kindness, forgiveness, and compassion—and I continue to ponder what else I must do to go beyond myself to bring about justice for Dreamers. As DACA expires on March 5, our Dreamers will experience suffering, uncertainty, and pain across the nation. In following Jesus’ footsteps, I must continue to stand in solidarity, speak up, stand up, and go beyond myself for others—even if that means challenging Catholic higher education institutions to do better.
Our Catholic Church challenges us to go beyond ourselves in all we do—and this is why my work in higher education serving underrepresented students and our Dreamers is dear to my heart. Jesus has always been right next to me during difficulties—and Jesus has showed me mercy, compassion, and kindness.
However, Jesus challenges me every day to join immigration protests, fight for Dreamers, use my political power in support of DACA, and offer individual support to Dreamers at Marquette. In all of this, Lent gives me an opportunity to reflect on injustice, my work, and our Dreamers. Advocating for those at the margins is very challenging work, but we must do it for the betterment of humanity. I have accompanied many Dreamers in their journey for justice—and this has been my fullest expression of kindness and compassion.
[Consider attending the 2018 Marquette University Dreamers Gala]
Eva Martinez Powless was a first-generation student who attended middle and high school in Crystal City, Texas. Eva is a proud Mexican immigrant who brings extensive experience working directly with diverse student populations. Eva earned her Bachelor of Arts in Community Development & Leadership at Alverno College and Masters in Public Service and Leadership at Marquette University. Eva is currently a PhD student at Marquette University. She currently serves as the Director of the Office of Intercultural Engagement where she oversees student diversity and inclusion programming, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center and Center for Intercultural Engagement, and student support programs for underrepresented communities. Eva is the founder and co-leader of Marquette’s Undocumented Student Task Force and has been instrumental in raising funds for scholarships for undocumented students by serving as staff-head coordinator of the Dreamers Gala. Eva created the first Graduate Assistant Position for Latinx and Undocumented Student support at Marquette University. Prior to joining the Student Affairs team, Eva worked in Marquette’s Office of Admission in the role of Assistant Dean and Multicultural Community Outreach. Eva’s work in admissions focused on recruiting bright and talented Latinx, multicultural, and undocumented students. Eva has over eleven years of experience working directly with undocumented students in the area of recruitment, retention, and student success.