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Meet Lorena Tule-Romain of ImmSchools in Dallas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lorena Tule-Romain.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Lorena. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born in Michoacán, Mexico and immigrated with my family to the United States when I was 9 years old. I began my journey as an immigrant activist in 2004 by co-founding a grassroots organization dedicated to organizing and informing undocumented students of their rights and access to higher education. For four-years, I co-led Teach For America’s efforts to recruit and place teachers with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in classrooms throughout the country. I was also teaching assistant in Bogota, Colombia and has been an activist for young undocumented students for over 10 years. My passion for education equity comes from personal experience growing up as an undocumented student living in a low-income community in Dallas, Texas.

Growing as an undocumented student marked the trajectory of my professional life. As I navigated the professional pathways, I often grew frustrated with the lack of representation and knowledge around supporting undocumented families. This led me to join an extraordinary team of immigrants, who felt the same way about our immigrant and undocumented students. Thus, I took a leap of faith in co-creating ImmSchools, where we have impacted over 1000 educators, who have received professional development on effective practices to create safe and welcoming learning spaces for all students. Similarly, 800 immigrant students and families have learned about their rights in education and immigration, strengthening their agency in order to advocate for equitable K-12 education. As an emerging social impact entrepreneur, I’m committed to elevating the voices of our immigrant community to ensure we create an equitable education system where all students, no matter their immigration status, can thrive.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Becoming a social entrepreneur, founding a non-profit organization focused on creating safe and welcoming K-12 schools with little to none-experience was a learning curve. I began to seek more mentorship to ensure I had the necessary support to thrive. There have been many learnings along the way from having to re-do our 501 (c)-3 status application to transitioning from a board position to a full-time employee.

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
ImmSchools is an immigrant-led 501(c)3 non-profit organization that envisions a world where all students, no matter their immigration status, have access to safe, welcoming, and inclusive schools that allows them to reach their fullest potential. Our vision requires an intersectional and community-driven approach in order to achieve systemic and enduring change in our K-12 education system. Our mission is centered on three pillars: foster the resilience of our immigrant students and families by creating knowledge and power building spaces, strengthen the leadership capacity of educators in order to address the holistic needs of undocumented students, and create systemic change with the passage of immigrant-friendly policies in school districts. ImmSchools vision will be achieved when the K-12 education system becomes an equitable and welcoming space for immigrant students and families; one that deeply values their rich and diverse experiences as immigrants in this country.

North Texas is home to more than 475,000 undocumented immigrants. In addition, the Migration Policy Institute estimates more than 122,000 undocumented families live with at least one U.S.-citizen child under the age of 18. Despite a large number of undocumented students in North Texas, only two schools’ districts have passed safe-zone school resolutions in support of undocumented students. This visibly signals the lack of action by school districts in North Texas to support our immigrant and undocumented community within the K-12 education system. Additionally, there are no organizations doing this work in the Dallas metroplex and that is what ultimately sets ImmSchools apart.

I am most proud of ImmSchools’ programming because its exclusively informed, designed, and facilitated by current or former undocumented educators, elevating our leadership as true experts working in the intersection of education and immigration. Through this unique approach, our team translates the complexity of our immigration experiences into effective and proactive programming that leads to enduring change within our schools.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Growing up in Dallas, Texas, I vividly remember was spending time volunteering at a nursing home, public libraries, and community events during my summers. One of my favorite memories growing-up is volunteering at events and expecting nothing in return. During my junior year of high school, I helped plan the Dallas Mega March and holding the banner at the front of the march, and that was an unforgettable memory.

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Image Credit:
Lorena Tule-Romain

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