The Pandemic’s Impact on Fresno City College’s Dream Center

Story By: Lauren Tacotaco, Reporter

Fresno City College’s Dream Center continues to provide services and instruction to its students online and through the phone amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The purpose of the Dream Center, according to its page on the FCC website, is to assist students at FCC who are undocumented in overcoming accessibility challenges and with the completion of vocational or transfer level goals in higher education.

According to Ben Reynoso, the director of the Dream Center, the transition to remote services due to the pandemic has made fulfilling the Dream Center’s purpose challenging for both the students and faculty.

“We had to shift to online or phone appointments, when many of our Dreamers were not prepared to go fully technological or they didn’t have equipment set like internet routers or comfortable locations to have personal conversations like they were used to,” Reynoso said.

As for the counselors of the Dream Center, some have made themselves available as late as 8 p.m., as opposed to their normal hours, which the latest would be 5 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays.

The Dream Center has three adjunct counselors who each give more than 20 hours a week to support its Dreamers and any students who require academic support.

Guadalupe Garcia is one of the Dream Center’s counselors. 

Like Reynoso, Garcia said the transition from in-person to remote learning was difficult for faculty and students initially, but over time, everyone has gotten used to it, especially the students.

“They already know how to get to appointments, they already know that the Dream Center is open Monday through Friday, they know how to reach out to us, so I think it is becoming easier for them,” Garcia said. 

Garcia has had students reach out to her for a variety of needs, such as tutoring or career assistance, to which Garcia would refer those students to their corresponding departments.

Another resource that Garcia mentioned is an immigration attorney that is currently working with FCC to help students, faculty, and staff.   

In the beginning of the transition and over the course of last year, the number of student appointments made to the Dream Center dropped. 

For the fall 2020 semester, the numbers dropped from what was estimated to be 890 students to 650 students, according to Reynoso. 

He and the Dream Center faculty attributed less student visits to the lack of technology but also to the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

To help students who were experiencing technical difficulties and lack of technology, Reynoso and the Dream Center sent inquiries to those who needed internet services. 

The Dream Center sought out free internet hotspots for students that the state’s California Community College League leant out, which according to Reynoso, was initially around 50 hotspots over the course of a year.

Prior to the 2020 election, the rescinding announcement made by the Donald Trump and Mike Pence administration on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, caused Dreamers to question whether or not it would be worth it to continue pursuing an education, according to Reynoso. 

According to an article from the National Immigration Law Center, back in June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump-Pence administration’s attempt to end DACA with a 5-4 vote. 

Shortly after, the leader of the Trump-Pence administration said they would continue to fight to put an end to DACA by rejecting all initial DACA requests, advancing parole, and changing the application to be having to be renewed once every 2 years to now every year for the same price.

By doing so, this would have made receiving DACA very difficult, which would affect student opportunities to work in the country.

Because of this, Reynoso said, the Dream Center was very intentional last fall to provide support and workshops for its Dreamers to make them understand that this campus values them and wants them to pursue their education.

One of the workshops held by the Dream Center was on legal advice provided by the United Farm Workers Foundation where students can seek any help while concentrating on their classes.

Now, with the new Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris administration, the Dreamers have felt more supported through our political leadership, according to Reynoso.

The Biden-Harris administration began processing the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 during March. 

As explained by, the bill would grant permanent resident status to the Dreamers. 

“Since our Dreamers are in school right now this would keep them on the correct path to continue their aspirations of going to school, passing their classes and eventually graduate,” Reynoso said. 

This spring 2021 semester, the number of student appointments made to the Dream Center has gone back up again, as well as the number of classes that these students are enrolling for. 

These numbers are tracked by a secure database that the Dream Center uses in collaboration with FCC’s campus.  

“The students are returning, feeling more comfortable with the online platform and trusting that getting an education is where they belong,” Reynoso said.