Yuriana Aguilar, a UC Merced graduate, is the face of the dreamer movement. She is an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the United States as a 5-year-old by her parents from Mexico.
Her research into the human heart while she was at UC Merced has opened doors. Aguilar is now an instructor in the department of physiology and biophysics at Rush Medical College in Chicago. She continues to research the human heart.
Aguilar is a beneficiary of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which allows people who immigrated to the United States as children, remain here and have no path to citizenship while also receiving a renewable work permit.
Last year Aguilar became the first DACA student to earn a doctorate, when she graduated from UC Merced with a degree in Quantitative Systems Biology.
On a Facebook post Aguilar wrote, “For me, there are certainly fears, fear that I’ll be in the flea market one day they will be rounding people up for deportations. I fear that no one is going to care that I have a PhD or that I have lived in the United States for as long as I can remember.”