Jimena Estrada learned about College of Saint Mary’s Misericordia Scholarship for undocumented students when she was still in middle school. Her brother’s fourth-grade teacher was a recipient and a graduate of CSM.
However, it wasn’t until she was a junior at Omaha South High School that she realized it would be difficult for her to go to college as she wasn’t eligible for federal student loans. Jimena had moved to the U.S. from Mexico with her parents when she was just seven months old.
“It would sometimes bring me down,” she said. “I couldn’t do anything. I really didn’t think I would get to go to college. Then, I heard about the Misericordia Scholarship again.”
The Misericordia Scholarship opens the door to education for undocumented students of diverse backgrounds who are not eligible for federal assistance. It is donor funded. Jimena and her parents are grateful to those who have donated to the scholarship.
“Once I got the call that I received the scholarship, we all broke down in tears,” she said. “It was a big moment for all of us.”
Jimena, a sophomore, first visited CSM to meet with Flames soccer coach Jordan Irsik. Her future teammates were welcoming and inclusive. Getting the opportunity to play college soccer was a dream realized for Jimena. She is now a two-year starter for the Flames.
“It was awesome,” she said. “I can’t wait for the next two years.”
CSM’s small campus and class sizes appealed to Jimena. The residence hall allows her to live on campus but still be close to her family. “It just felt right. It felt like home.”
Jimena is majoring in applied psychology and human services. She hopes to become a social worker and help children. But it was an adjustment academically from high school to college. That’s where CSM’s Student Success Advisors have helped. They offer resources and a support system as well as an accountability partner for students.
“I think just knowing that they were right behind me, and they want what’s best for me is really encouraging,” Jimena said. “I have to put in the work.”