Empowering undocumented young people to achieve educational and career goals
DOCUMENTARY FILM: DON'T STOP ME NOW FILM REVIEWS
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Kysa Nygreen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Education University of California, Santa Cruz
"Don't Stop Me Now offers an excellent introduction to the topic of undocumented students in the United States. The film focuses on the barriers these students face in obtaining a college education - including but not limited to the unbearable financial burden of paying for college when financial aid is not an option. Through four portraits of undocumented students in high school and college, Don't Stop Me Now puts a human face on this largely unknown student population.
I use this film for teaching a large lecture course about diversity in education at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Many of the students in this course are planning to become teachers, and when they do, they will likely have undocumented students in their classrooms. Unfortunately, the experiences of undocumented students are often excluded from courses about diversity in education, due both to a lack of knowledge about these students as well as the heated controversies surrounding the immigration issue. As a result, many of our future teachers graduate from education programs with little awareness of undocumented students' unique needs and experiences.
Fortunately, Don't Stop Me Now provides a wonderful entry point for engaging this topic in a substantive and meaningful way. The film introduces basic information about undocumented students, while also stimulating rich class discussion about the experiences of undocumented students in our schools. The film humanizes this topic by grounding it in the stories of four extraordinary undocumented students. This aspect of the film helped my college students see the many ways in which undocumented students are "just like them" - sitting along side them in class, worrying about tuition and grades - even as they face extraordinary barriers to college. Finally, the film helped my students understand the incredible financial burden that undocumented students face in college, as well as the extraordinary motivation of these students to succeed. I was amazed and impressed at the rich class discussion that followed the viewing of this film, and with my students' written responses to the film.
Don't Stop Me Now builds empathy and understanding while introducing viewers to one of the most critically important educational topics of our day. I recommend this film as a teaching resource in college and high school courses, and as a professional development resource for all teachers, educators, and youth workers."
Raul Fernandez Professor, Chicano Latino Studies University of California, Irvine
"In my estimation the film is unique in that it shows that lack of documents is a problem not only for say, day workers standing in a street corner looking for jobs. It puts a different face on the issue, one that is a lot closer to the lives and experiences of average undergraduate. After seeing Irene, for example, undergraduate students can no longer think of undocumented people as some distant "illegal" people with whom they have little in common. Irene is just another student, she could be a sister, a girlfriend, a roommate, a classmate. And obviously she's not foreign, but "American" through and through. Thus, pedagogically speaking, the film is extremely helpful to explain the plight of the undocumented."
Amado M. Padilla Chairman and Professor, Psychological Studies in Education, School of Education Stanford University
"Today a human tragedy of enormous proportions is taking place on many of our high school campuses. Approximately, 65,000 undocumented students graduate annually, but their hopes and dreams fade into the shadows because their options for higher education are limited. This video serves to educate us about the dilemma of being undocumented and not having a place despite having heard the message of work hard and assimilate! "Don't Stop Me Now" documents the lives of four courageous students from Mexico, Guatemala, and Tonga as they struggle with the reality that as undocumented recent high school graduates they must find ways to curtail their dreams of becoming professionals and face the harsh reality of possible deportation. I recommend this video to anyone concerned with immigrant issues. The video provides intellectual and emotional justification for supporting the Dream Act that would provide a pathway to citizenship."
Diana Padilla Transfer Outreach Intern for TPP University of California, Santa Cruz
"The film "Don't Stop Me Now" has inspired me both as a student activist and as a transfer outreach intern for the Transfer Partnerships Program at UCSC. I work with and I am friends with many undocumented students and know how difficult the higher education system can be for them in regards to financial support. However, films like "Don't Stop Me Now" and immigrant student rights activists groups are getting the word out about this issue are making positive changes for undocumented students. The students in the film put a face on the struggle for higher education rights and provide motivation for other students in their shoes. This film has been and will continue to be a resource for the Transfer Partnerships Program because it will show our students at the community college and high school level that there is hope and there is a way if they have aspirations to one day attend a university."
GretchenWehrle Professor of Psychology Notre Dame de Namur University (Belmont, CA)
"Smiles....tears. Hopes....reality. Don't Stop Me Now tells the powerful story of four undocumented students and their dream of pursuing a college education. The courage, perseverance, and determination of these students are exceptional, yet fear and uncertainty overshadow their daily lives. This film is an excellent talking point for community dialogues with youth, families, and school personnel. In viewing the film, I experienced such mixed emotions--the joy and excitement of these students are contagious, while at the same time being constrained by the huge barriers they must overcome. Don't Stop Me Now acts as a great motivator for us as we come together to support these young people in their journey to realize their dreams and future goals."
Dr. Frank C. Espinoza Evergreen Valley College (San Jose, CA)
"The documentary Don't Stop Me Now, is a must see for all who are interested in equality and justice in the U.S. It is sure to stimulate important questions on U.S. policy towards immigrant youth, and the xenophobic practices which are deeply rooted in the U.S. Don't Stop Me Now highlights an amazing group of young high school students who share their voices on the challenges they face of being undocumented in the U.S., while wanting to pursue a Higher Education. Their profound testimonials provide insight into the lives of each student as they face the harsh realities of being undocumented students in the U.S.
As a faculty member at Evergreen Valley College, I work daily with undocumented immigrant students who have excelled academically and have met transfer requirements to attend the finest universities in the country. However, with no financial aide eligibility, due to immigration policies in the U.S., undocumented students are faced with the astronomical costs of attending a university. As I assist my students with the realities of the financial obligation to attend Higher Education, their dreams of acquiring a university degree seem unattainable. The documentary, Don't Stop Me Now, keeps my students and all allies of undocumented students hopes alive."
Mary Hofstedt Policy and Program Specialist, Youth Development and Engagement John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities Stanford University
"When first I saw Don't Stop Me Now I thought "this is something people need to see" -not just people who work with students directly, but anyone who cares about social justice and education.
Don't Stop Me Now illuminates a subject that we must address if we truly believe that every child has a right to equal educational opportunity. Access to higher education is not just an individual issue. There are implications - and solutions - to be found at all levels of policy and practice. This poignant film bridges the personal narrative and social costs, and compels the viewer toward action.
Through my work, I meet many young people who are hard working, contributing members of my community - and who do not have equal access to resources that will help them to pursue their higher education or career goals. This has negative repercussions not only for these individuals, but for our educational systems, civic institutions, and our society as a whole. If we are failing some of our young people, we are sending mixed messages to all young people. This film puts the issue out in the open where we can see it, grapple with it, and hopefully, work together to find solutions that benefit us all.
From experience, I have learned that Don't Stop Me Now can raise awareness, start dialogues, and garner support for immigrant youth in my community. The producers take on the cross section of two controversial issues - education and immigration - with grace. They leave the viewer with increased empathy, understanding, desire to learn more, and to act."
Alexander Thome Former Assistant Director of Admission, Santa Clara University
"Hardly ever in the immigration debate do we confront a nuanced, intelligent, and compassionate perspective that can transcend party lines, ethnic groups, and polarized ideologies. Don't Stop Me Now does exactly that. The stories of the youth showcased in this documentary are tragic at times but also infectiously inspiring. As a current graduate student in international affairs at Columbia University, this film reminds me of the enormous capacity of people to tackle obstacles in pursuit of dreams, and as a result I am reminded that I can do much more. As a former practitioner in college admission I am grateful to see such an informative presentation of an urgent and yet under-discussed issue that affects hundreds of thousands of students, their friends, their families, their teachers, their mentors, and all those who find hope in their example.
I recommend Don't Stop Me Now to anyone who works on behalf of students - teachers, administrators, parents, donors, social workers, admission professionals, policy-makers, counselors, and politicians - as well as for students nation-wide from those who study at the most affluent boarding schools to those who personify the documentary's struggle day in and day out.
Don't Stop Me Now breaks new ground and will teach you about an important issue that demands more attention nationally and, at the very least, it will inspire you."
Angie Holbrook Educational Advisor PACT, Inc
"I am very thankful for the Don't Stop Me Now documentary because it allowed my coworkers to see the faces and hear the stories of actual undocumented students speaking truthfully and openly about their struggles. It made all of the information I presented around the challenges faced by undocumented more real. My coworkers were able to see and feel the emotions some of these students experience by listening to and seeing their stories in this documentary. It also helped illustrate how hard achieving higher education is for students without citizenship. I am very thankful to E4FC donating and creating this meaningful documentary."