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El Mundo Boston 2018.

DANIELA BRAVO-TERKIA

Immigrants Rights Activist, Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy

Heritage:  Chilean

Age: 30

 

Notable Accomplishments:

 

  • John F. Kennedy Award for Academic Excellence

  • Commencement speaker in 2017 at Umass Boston

  • Recipient of 2017 Sally Goss Memorial Prize for anthropology

  • Fellow, National Latino Policy Institute, Washington D.C in 2013

  • Fellow for Latino Leadership Opportunity Program in 2013

  • Fellow for Health Equity Scholars Program in 2013

  • Fellow for Provost Research Scholar in 2012.

 

By: April M. Crehan

 

When Daniela Bravo-Terkia came out as an undocumented immigrant, she did so in a big way: on the cover of an issue of Time magazine.

 

“It was important for me to come out of the shadows to help other people who were afraid,” she said.

 

Bravo-Terkia had not yet told her mother about the article. She took part in a photoshoot that landed her between the A and the R of “We Are Americans” in June 2012 edition.

 

“My mom was very scared for me because she never imagined that I would be so public,” she recalled.

 

For a long time, she wasn’t. Bravo-Terkia graduated from high school in 2006 and watched her friends write applications and plan for college, knowing that might never happen for her.

 

“I knew that college was an obstacle–it was something that was very far away from my reach. Around that time, I went through serious  depression that led me to the hospital. A social worker connected me to the Student Immigration Movement.”

 

From that point, she began her fight for immigrant rights. The activism and advocacy of groups like SIM—not a magazine photoshoot—were responsible for the 2012 start of DACA, which she remembers vividly

 

“Someone from the Student Immigrant Movement called me really early in the morning,” she said. “I was so emotional. I started to cry.” She remembered thinking, “I’ll know what it’s like to be a ‘normal person’ for a little bit.”

 

However, the passage was bittersweet when she thought of her mother, who was excited at the new opportunity DACA presented for her daughter, but couldn’t take advantage of the program.

 

Bravo-Terkia now has her B.A. and became the first undocumented student at UMASS Boston to receive the John F. Kennedy Award for Academic Excellence as her class valedictorian.

 

Graduation isn’t the end of Bravo-Terkia’s fight to support student immigrants and the immigrant community. She continues to share her journey as she works at the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at UMass Boston

 

“For me it’s important to make sure that the next generation can have access, but not only access, that they have a very dignified academic journey,” she said.

 

“An attack on DACA is an attack on all immigrants,” she added.