Student Lens: Melanny Buitron – A Voice for DACA Students

Posted by Gladys Roman , Toma Talpa, Edited by Eva Green on

By Toma Talpa

The journey of undocumented students in the United States is filled with the hardships and challenges, but for some, the obstacles they overcome, also make them stronger.  Now, DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has also given hope to thousands of undocumented students.

Mellany Buitron was born in Ecuador and like thousands of other DACA students, she is not afraid to fight for her dreams. Buitron was a year old when she immigrated to Chicago with her family. She grew up in the city and attended Chicago Public Schools. While at Taft High School she was in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training program and did not miss a chance to be a leader.

When she graduated from high school, Buitron did not think she would attend college because she was undocumented. However, in 2012 DACA was approved by then President Obama, allowing thousands of undocumented students who, like Buitron, arrived to the United States as children, the opportunity to not be deported, attend schools, and even work. For Buitron, DACA opened the doors to attend college. Once she received her DACA approval, Buitron signed up at Wilbur Wright College, one of Chicago’s seven city colleges. While at Wright, she got involved in Student Government Association, where she started as a senator and later became vice president. But she found her love and passion for student advocacy through her role as a Students Concern Committee member. After two years at Wright College, Buitron was selected for a student trustee position which she embraced with honor. It was her time to take her dreams to the next level.  Feeling strong and optimistic, Buitron got the opportunity to intern at Wright College-Humboldt Park where she developed a monarch logo for undocumented students. She also interned with the organization Chicago Votes, where she motivated youth to participate in civic engagement during an election process. But one of her biggest accomplishments, and one she’s most proud of, was interning at Democratic Senator Dick Durbin office, who has been an advocate for undocumented students.

The dream to complete her education lies deeply in her heart because education has long been engrained in her by her parents.

“Education is always key, education is freedom” Buitron says.

Buitron is attending Northeastern University this fall with a full ride scholarship. Because of her internships and experience at Wilbur Wright College, Buitron says she would love to come back to work for Chicago City Colleges as a college president, an Associate Dean of Admissions or even as Chancellor.

Buitron's hope is to continue to help undocumented students. She is passionate about helping and advocating for DACA students and believes they can succeed and can overcome life’s challenges by staying resilient, motivated and persistent.

"At the end of the day, you can be successful,” Buitron says. "Si se puede”.