Both were described as tireless activists in undocumented students civil rights movement through their fight for the DREAM Act: Celebrating DREAM Act Sheroes: Tam and Cinthya. Here's more on Tam from the OC Weekly:
Tam Ngoc Tran was everything an illegal immigrant isn't supposed to be: non-Mexican. College-educated--scratch that, a college graduate. Fully assimilated. A contributor to this country rather than a leech. American.More here. Tam was probably best known as the DREAM Act student who testified in Congress and had to go into hiding shortly after when ICE retaliated by detaining her parents. Ironically, she was pursuing a PhD in American Studies at Brown with the hope that someday soon this country would recognize her as an American.
She was among the country's more prominent undocumented college students, a 2007 graduate of UCLA pursuing a doctorate at Brown University who had previously testified before Congress in favor of the DREAM Act, a proposed bill that would grant citizenship to the hundreds of thousands of young people who illegally came to this country as children, did what they were supposed to do as students, and went on to college. Though Tran was born in Germany to Vietnamese refugees, she was as Orange County as they come--a 2001 graduate of Santiago High School in Garden Grove who attended Santa Ana College before transferring to UCLA, and tutoring kids here whenever possible. She told her story in Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out, a UCLA publication that gathered the stories of other students like Tran.
But now, this beloved 27-year-old is gone, killed in a car crash in Maine along with her fellow DREAMer, Cinthya Felix of Los Angeles.
Cinthya was a founding member of the undocumented youth group at UCLA (IDEAS), and was the first undocumented student admitted to Columbia University's School of Public Health in 2007. Despite numerous hardships, including being ineligible for all federal aid, grants or fellowships, she was determined to see her education through.
Both are featured in this short video: A Dream Deferred. I didn't personally know either of these extraordinary women (I'm told that Tam was an avid reader of this blog), but it's obvious that their lives were cut far too short, and there was so much more work left for them to do.
There will be a memorial for Tam and Cinthya tomorrow, May 17, 3:00pm at Charles E. Young Grand Salon in Kerckhoff Hall at UCLA. For more information, go to the Facebook event page: In Memory of Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix: In honor of their life and spirit.