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DACA Dames: Gabby and Maria Munoz, ’18

This Campus Cutie was posted on behalf of Claire Sinnott, ’17.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an executive order that allows certain people who came to the United States as children and meet the qualifications to receive temporary citizenship that lasts for three years. After those three years are up, DACA status is eligible for renewal if the qualifications still hold true. Freshman twins, Gabby and Maria Munoz, are two of the ten DACA students currently here at Notre Dame and are this week’s Campus Cuties. They shared with us a little more about themselves and DACA.

Name: Gabby and Maria

Year: Freshmen

Dorm: Gabby lives in Howard, Maria lives in Pdub

Hometown: Zacatecas, Mexico

Majors: Chemical Engineering

Campus activities:

Gabby: Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy

Maria: Anbryce Program

North or South Dining Hall?

Gabby: North

Maria: North

Favorite dining hall food?

Gabby: Omelet Line

Maria: Omelet Line

Favorite TV show?

Gabby: Big Bang Theory

Maria: Big Bang Theory

(Can you tell they’re twins???)

Celebrity Crush?

Gabby: Liam Hemsworth

Maria: Channing Tatum

Long term plans or goals?

Gabby: Get married

Maria: Get into graduate school

When was your DACA status approved?

We found out it was approved in the summer of 2013.

What would have happened if you had not become a DACA student?

Our family would have struggled to put us through community college and we probably not been able to graduate because without our DACA status, we were unable to apply for financial aid.

Does being a DACA student on campus affect your everyday life? How?

Maria: Yes it really does. We have to be careful about what we’re applying to because as a DACA student we can’t apply to certain programs such as study abroad or research opportunities provided by the University in other countries.

Maria and Gabby expressed that being a DACA student can really “set you back, but it’s a learning experience.” Even though Gabby and Maria feel like they are excluded from some programs, they truly emphasized how appreciative they are about the things they do get to do. They are extremely grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities Notre Dame has to offer.  Most people don’t know of Gabby and Maria’s DACA status – there is definitely more than meets the eye for this dynamic duo. The twins expressed that people are always surprised when they find out about their DACA status. Maria mentioned that in high school when asked about their state of citizenship, a friend snidely remarked that they were “too classy not to be a citizen.” That kind of comment can hurt, especially when you or some of your loved ones fall into the category of not being an official US citizen. After uncomfortable situations like this, the girls say they have become to be pretty good at changing the subject and redirecting the focus of these conversations. Before Notre Dame, most of their friends had no idea that Maria and Gabby were not typical American teenagers.

How many other DACA students are there at Notre Dame?

Currently, there are ten that are freshman and two grad students. Most DACA students are not as open about it as we are. We think it is extremely important for DACA students to educate our peers of what it means to have DACA status and how much it has changed our lives with countless new opportunities.

If you could share one thing about your experience with DACA to the entire student body, what would you want to say?

Maria: Receiving support from others that you open up to, and encouragement that other students standing behind you is extremely reassuring. This has overwhelmingly been our experience here and we are so grateful for that.

Gabby: Fitting in is not really my goal. I think it’s important to tell people who I am, why I’m different, and what I can teach others about myself. We’re really thankful for everything that we have worked for and that has been granted to us at the University, especially encouragement from other students and incredible support from Father Hesburgh when we first arrived in August.


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Images courtesy of interviewees. 

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