Source: KTAR News
By: COOPER RUMMELL
KTAR News is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, paying tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have influenced and enriched our community in a positive way. This week KTAR News presents profiles of five Arizonans who have become difference-makers in our state. This is part 2 of a 5 part series.
Dulce Matuz came to America as an undocumented immigrant when she was 15-years-old.
“I came here because I wanted to be with my mom, it’s as simple as that,” Matuz said. “I wanted to be with my family and my mom came here because she wanted to give me a better life.”
Matuz attended Carl Hayden Community High School just west of downtown Phoenix. She learned English and developed a passion for electrical engineering after joining the school’s robotics team.
Two of her mentors at school encouraged the teen to apply for college at Arizona State University.
“It became a great challenge when I started filling out my application and one of the questions is ‘What is your social (security number),’” she said.
The university did accept the young immigrant but she faced continued legal and financial challenges as state laws were getting stricter for those who were undocumented.
Eventually, Matuz met with a small group of students who were facing the same challenges she was facing.
“At first it was just basic conversations like, ‘How do you open a bank account’ or ‘How do you file your tax returns,’” she said.
Those meetings lead to the creation of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, which Matuz helped co-found. The ADAC currently fights for higher education equality while promoting a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
“We can’t continue to be the Arizona that is divisive, anti-immigrant, and anti-Latino,” she said. “We have to be inclusive especially when most of the students from K through 12 are Latino.”
Matuz continues to be a vibrant voice in the ADAC as she continues her own journey to soon become a U.S. citizen.