CAUSE Leaders

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Ariana Santana | CAUSE President
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Andrea Ramirez | Newsletter Head

CAUSE Advisor

Dr. Miguel A. Saucedo | Director of Post-Secondary Strategic Interventions | Office of School Counseling and Post-Secondary Advising (OSCPA)
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Susana Mares | Undocumented Champion Program Manager

CAUSE Members

BE8ED158-EA09-446D-8C9B-1BF6D4BE67E3 - Waad Idriss
Waad Idriss
C5BF9B28-35E8-41CC-92DF-17238B48F729 - Andreina Mendoza
Andreina Mendoza
Top10Andy - Andrea Guzman
Andrea Guzman
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Stacey Chen
IMG_5323 - Olivia Kluska
Olivia Kluska
IMG_2801 - Kasandra Facio
Kassandra Facio

CPS Alumn

IMG_41744F446E7E-1 - Elena Hernandez Cornelio
Elena Hernandez
IMG_5973 - Mia Mendoza
Mia Mendoza
Yamali Rodas
Francisco A. Villaseñor
Valeria Monreal
Viri (1)
Viri Martínez
Isabela K. Ávila Ríos
Ileanne Cecilio
Alejandro Lopez Perez
Natalie Velazquez
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Valeria Silva
Maria Mancero

CAUSE Allies

Dra. Joanna V. Maravilla | Website Sponsor
IMG_6915 - Ariana Santana

Ariana Santana

I have been at CAUSE since April of 2022 thanks to Isabela Avila who was my current DREAMers president. 

I live in Belmont Cragin and currently attend Lane Tech High School. I enjoy making art and revolve my free time around the arts, playing video games and reading. 

My first meeting at CAUSE was a big step for me, I was able to see people my age work together to improve our school system but also behaving like a big family. This environment really captivated me and I felt like I had a place in this community. I do this work because as an undocumented student I understand the struggle and I want to make a better future for those that will come after me. I want to help others the way I was helped by my club and the entirety of CAUSE. This organization has helped me by motivating me to keep working for my dreams, they provided the information and the resources that I can use to move forward like the rest of my peers. The most rewarding part of this is when I hear people that find our resources or hear about CAUSE in other spaces because that means that our work is paying off and things are improving for my community. 

Andrea Guzman 

I have been with CAUSE since June 2023, after hearing about them from an advisor that was helping me with an interview. I told her about my struggles and how I feel being an undocumented. Then I received information about CAUSE and registered for the program. A week later I met Susana and Carolina and had a meeting with them and introduced me with some information about CAUSE, it was later when I talked to Elena that I had a full information about CAUSE and became a member of CAUSE.

I come from Little Village and currently attend Farragut Career Academy. I have been living in these neighborhood for over 10 years since we arrived. I really like my neighborhood because its full of culture and you can communicate well with the community.

Ever since I got involved with CAUSE, I have feel like I’ve a purpose and not status get the better of me. My experience with CAUSE has been amazing I’m still looking forward in CAUSE, in learning more and expanding as a person.

Dr. Miguel A. Saucedo | He/Him/His

I’m a Little Village native. I attended Farragut HS. I work for the CPS central office and support all High Schools. My title is Director of Strategic Partnerships and Special Populations.

Dr. Miguel A. Saucedo is a native from Chicago’s Little Village community. He earned his doctorate from the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Latina/Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His dissertation focused on the academic achievement, suspension and expulsion, and criminalization of young Mexican American male students in Chicago Public Schools. He currently serves as the Director of Strategic Partnerships and Special Populations at Chicago Public Schools.

I’m An Unafraid Educator With And For Undocumented Students. CAUSE is one of the core reasons why I serve CPS student and their families. Since 2018, CAUSE co-created many of the initiatives that CPS has launched to support Undocumented Students across the district and beyond. As a result of CAUSE’s research findings and list of recommendations, CPS developed the Chicago Undocumented Champion Credential for all High Schools Counselors and partners.

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My name is Susana Mares, and I am a proud first generation, English Language Learner, and Chicago Public School’s alumna! My family is from Aguascalientes, Mexico. I grew up mostly in the south side of Chicago. First part of my childhood, I lived in the Little Village neighborhood where I attended Eli Whitney Elementary School, but graduated from Richard Henry Lee Elementary School due to moving to the West Lawn area during that year. I am the oldest of three siblings! 

I graduated from John F. Kennedy High School, and attended Northeastern Illinois University. Extremely thankful to my parents that were able to fund my education, since I was not eligible for FAFSA due to a high income. I received very little support in high school in terms of being able to discuss what I wanted to do after high school. With that said, I initially wanted to become an English high school teacher; however, once I began to be in the classrooms when I first started working with Chicago GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) as a part-time tutor, I realized I had a different career interest. I did not realize that there were careers, aside from being a School Counselor, that focused on supporting high school students in navigating post-secondary opportunities. I decided to graduate with a Bachelor’s in English to later apply for a full-time position with GEAR UP. 

I had the opportunity to work with GEAR UP for about 13 years under different roles and capacities. I was very fortunate to serve about six different cohorts from John F Hancock, Foreman, and Farragut Career Academy. In 2019, I achieved my Master’s degree in Higher Education Leadership. During the pandemic, I knew it was time to search for another opportunity. I was given the opportunity to work for a Title V Grant at Wright College in partnership with 13 CPS Schools and Northeastern Illinois University as the Director- Student Development Projects. 

Because I come from a family with mixed statuses, serving undocumented students and communities is important to me. I am very grateful to be in this new role as the Undocumented Champion Program Manager. And, I am very excited to work alongside a very committed group of adults, youth, and other stakeholders that want to support this population of students. 

Please contact me if you need to talk more about your options. There are many allies here willing to support you! 

Waad Idriss 

March-2022(I think) I joined cause because I saw it on enrichments on the school selenium website at Payton and I was really intrigued by it and I told my friends to join as well. I started to get to know how the organization worked and how things were done and that really interested me. I wanted to make sure every immigrant had the best resources to succeed in their academic life and more because that was something I didn’t have years back. So I joined Cause ever since and I have been loving it.

I live in Edgewater. I attend Walter Payton College Prep. I am involved in various things outside of school including cheer, a showcase I am envisioning to happen, another organization I started, a tutoring organization in my neighborhood which I started, an aviation club I wanted to make in my community with resources about the career and how aviation lovers can get involved. That’s all I have for now but I hope to open some new ideas to school this year as well.

I absolutely love Cause and what we do. I got involved in Cause because it resonates with me down to the different resources we give people and kids to learn, as well as leadership opportunities and the incredible community they have created. Cause affects me personally because I’ve always dreamed of being involved in something like this. I’ve always wanted to help in any way that I can and Cause is the exact thing I was looking for. Cause actually does what they say they do in the most genuine way and that’s something I will always want to be apart of.

Andreina Mendoza 

I first joined cause May 2021 then again officially in September 2022 through Maria.

Belmont Cragin and I go to Northside College Prep.

My experience with CAUSE has been great! I love CAUSE and all the work we do. It’s been fun meeting people who are just as passionate as I am about this work for the undocumented community.

Andrea Guzman

I joined CAUSE in December of 2022 after learning about the organization through my school’s DREAM Team sponsors and members who had previously taken part in it.
I attend Eric Solorio Academy High School located in Gage Park. At Solorio, I have taken part in a few extracurricular activities. I have participated in the DREAM Team since my freshman year after learning about the club through my sister. DREAM has been my favorite club so far as I enjoy organizing our fundraising events and spreading the word about what undocumented means and the resources people can look for. Then my junior year, I joined Women in Science where we collaborated with the Field Museum learning about different science fields and doing different hands-on activities. I also was inaugurated into the National Honor Society where I took an officer position as Vice President of Finance for that year. Now for my senior year, I have taken on the officer position of Vice President of Fundraising.
I got involved with CAUSE when the DREAM Team was looking for someone to take part in it as a representative for them. I volunteered as I enjoyed being part of my own school’s club and thought it would be an excellent opportunity to continue the work outside of school. I truly wanted to learn more and find different ways I could further help as an ally. When I joined CAUSE, I found that my favorite part was how everyone is very supportive of each other and has a passion for the work which created a safe environment. CAUSE has affected me personally as it has made me more aware of the different issues undocumented students face. When it comes to my school, it has allowed me to present them with even more information and resources that those who are undocumented at my school can use. I hope the future of CAUSE is a positive one where more schools in Chicago join and those involved learn even more and help further share the information.

Stacey Chen

August 2023, I found out about CAUSE through Jones’ Coalition of Immigrants Club (JCI) specifically during the Cultural Mixer event organized by JCI. The purpose of the event was to bring cultural clubs at our school together so we are able to get to know more about the cultures that were represented in our school while enjoying the fun activities provided by each club.

I am from Chinatown and I attend Jones College Prep. Outside of CAUSE, I am the co-president of Jones’ Chinese PCLH+ Club where we share and promote Chinese history, language, and culture through slide presentations and fun activities/games. I also volunteer whether it be during my free time or through Jones’ Key Club in different areas such as card making, community cleanup, or food distribution.

My experience has been great. Although I joined not too long ago, everyone has been very welcoming and encouraging. So far, my favorite part is when probably where we do check-ins and check-outs questions because I think this is a way for me to get to know more about others while also doing it in a more fun and interactive way. I enjoy sharing volunteer opportunities with friends and students in my school so when I found out that CAUSE provides and share resources to support students’ higher education, I decided to join CAUSE with the hope of being a part of this mission and supply my support towards this cause.

Olivia Kluska 

I’ve been a CAUSE member since July 2023, I found encouragement to join thanks to Ariana and Elena :))

I currently live in Portage Park and I’m a senior at Lane Tech College Prep. Outside of CAUSE, I’m in the Teen Creative Agency with the MCA and practice martial arts. I love to keep myself busy, but when I have some down time I’m happiest doing visual arts, reading, playing video games, and tending to my plants.

Although I’m very new to CAUSE, the open and welcoming environment made me feel like I’ve been here for so much longer. It’s really inspiring to be a part of an initiative that is helping my community after being made to feel like this status is something to hide. Seeing all the tedious care put into helping others by the members, I’m proud to be a part of something that is making real change on a larger scale.

Kassandra Facio

Joined December 2023

I’m from the Northwest side of Chicago and reside in the Logan Square – Avondale area. I’m currently a senior at Whitney Young. Aside from CAUSE, I am on the board for my school’s UNICEF club, a part of Chicago Teen Mentors, in NHS, mock trial, Latinos Unidos, and Latin dance at my school. I am the founder and president of the Whitney Young DREAMers Club. I play lacrosse, love all things matcha, and love to watch 2000s films. I am most excited to meet students from different CPS schools across Chicago who are passionate about similar things and want to make a difference in the lives of others and in the world. As a FGLI student, I want to advocate for those who need resources and support.

Ren Mendoza recommended that I join CAUSE and start a club at my school last year. Unfortunately, I had trouble starting a club at my school due to scheduling conflicts, lack of participation, and my sponsor was not very communicative. However, with the help of Susana and Ariana, I was able to found the first-ever DREAMers club at my school! I’m looking forward to getting younger generations involved, making a difference amongst undocumented and DACAmented individuals, and meeting new people. I am extremely grateful to go to a school that seventh and eighth graders also attend, and hope to inspire them to carry on this club after I graduate. 

Dra. Joanna V. Maravilla | she/her/hers/la/ella 

I am a first-generation college student, child of immigrant parents – who was born and raised in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. I earned my doctoral degree in curriculum studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago and am currently assistant professor of educational leadership – English as a second language in the department of education at Lewis university. My work examines the impact of curriculum and language ideologies on the success of Latinx students in public education. This includes the education of emergent bilingual students, bilingualism, education policy, urban education, the education of undocumented youth and teacher preparation. Through the use of Latinx critical race theory (LatCrit) & testimonio as a methodology, my work focuses on the relationship between language, race, culture, and literacy learning.

As una hija of former undocumented parents and many family members that continue to identify as such, I understand the various ways in which such status impacts the daily lives of youth and their families. It is because of this that I am an unafraid educator and advocate for la causa. The work of CAUSE continues to remind me that we must stay grounded, hopeful and must strive toward ensuring that resources are accessible to all.

Outside of my professional endeavors, I helped co-found and am chair of The Anhelo Project, a non-profit organization providing scholarships to undocumented youth within the state of Illinois, since 2010. I look forward to continuing this work as part of my current and future goals in support of undocumented youth and their families.

Alejandro Lopez Perez 

I have been with CAUSE since August of 2021. I found out about CAUSE through former president Francisco and current president Isabela at the Mayor’s Office.
I am from the Jefferson Park neighborhood and I attend Taft High School where I am the president and founder of the DREAMers and First-Generation Club. Outside of CAUSE I am a Public Health Youth Commissioner at the Mayor’s Office and a chair for the CPS Office of Student Protections and Title IX Advisory Board.
Although I only joined CAUSE in late last year, I am proud to be working along such great people. The support provided here is like no other and the people here at CAUSE have truly created a safe space that inspires me so greatly. I am so involved in advocacy work especially for the undocumented community because my family and community has suffered from inadequate policy on numerous occasions and I just grew sick and tired of not being able to do more. CAUSE has definitely allowed me to impact the community around me directly and be the change I want to see in the world. I hope to see CAUSE as an established organization that is implemented in all high school networks in and outside of Chicago. I truly feel the world will benefit from having CAUSE in its lives. I myself want to pursue policy work related to public health but I have no doubt that the intersectionality between the undocumented community, public health, and various other social issues will allow me to continue doing advocacy work and CAUSE has been the fundamental basis for which I will only grow from. CAUSE not only empowers, but creates future leaders that I know will change the world.