— A Queens College Graduate, She Received a 2017 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “Genius Award” for Her Role in Shaping the National Debate on Immigration Policy —
February 14, 2018 (Queens, NY) – Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez has announced that alumna Cristina Jiménez Moreta will be the main speaker for the school’s 94th commencement ceremony, which will take place on Thursday, May 31, at 9 am. Jiménez Moreta, who graduated cum laude with a BA in political science in 2007, was named a 2017 MacArthur Fellow for her role in changing public perceptions of immigrant youth and for helping to shape the national debate around immigration policy.
“What could be more appropriate than to welcome back as our commencement speaker an alumna like Cristina who truly embodies our motto, We Learn so That We May Serve,” said President Matos. “She has been a game changer since her days on campus when she cofounded the New York State Youth Leadership Council. Now, as a MacArthur ‘Genius Award’ recipient, she will inspire a new generation of graduates to pursue the limitless futures they built here at Queens College.”
Jiménez Moreta, 33, was recognized for her work at United We Dream (UWD), an immigrant youth-led organization she cofounded; watch her describe her journey to becoming a social justice organizer and “Genius Award” recipient in this MacArthur Foundation video. The youngest of last year’s 24 award recipients, Jiménez Moreta received an award of $625,000, to be distributed over five years. Coincidentally, the award was announced on October 11, which was the 80th anniversary of the first day of classes at Queens College in 1937.
UWD is a nonpartisan network comprised of more than 100,000 immigrant youth and allies who organize and advocate for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families. Under Jiménez Moreta’s leadership as Executive Director, UWD has supported and trained tens of thousands of immigrant youth leaders to find and express their voice. The organization provides scholarships to highly qualified Dreamers so that they can continue their education, a cause dear to Jiménez Moreta, who arrived in New York from Ecuador at age 13, and earned her degree at Queens College as an undocumented student.
While receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the college’s political science department last spring, Jiménez Moreta remarked, “I would have never thought that the knowledge, encouragement, and mentorship I received from the faculty and the experiences that I had here at Queens College were shaping me to have an impact on immigration policy that will go down in history books. It is here that I really found my voice and grew as a student, as a thinker, as an organizer, and as a community leader.
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Queens College graduates the most teachers, counselors and principals in the metropolitan area. The college contributes to the local talent pool as a powerful economic engine and a leader in tech education, with more computer science majors than any college in New York City. Queens College also has the third-highest number of accounting and business students in all of New York State. Students from across the country and around the world are attracted to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music. Its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized composers, conductors and performers who have received over 100 Grammy Awards and nominations over the past 40 years.
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