Santa Ana College will dedicate a scholarship for illegal immigrant students in memory of 27-year-old immigration activist Tam Ngoc Tran of Garden Grove, who was killed in a crash involving a suspected drunken driver in Maine on May 15.
The dedication will take place during a ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Tran and 26-year-old Cinthya Felix Perez of Los Angeles were both killed in the crash. The friends were active members of the DREAM Act immigration reform movement, which aims to allow students who are in the country illegally the chance to apply for legal permanent residency, protect them from deportation and make them eligible for student loans and federal work-study programs.
Tran, who was pursuing a doctorate in Brown University in Rhode Island , was herself an illegal immigrant in pursuit of U.S. citizenship. She was a student at Santa Ana College before transferring to UCLA.
The scholarship would lack meaning if the student selected for the award were not taking the same path to citizenship as Tran, said Sara Lundquist, vice president of Student Affairs at Santa Ana. So, for example, an international student with a student visa will not qualify for this scholarship, she said.
"Tam dedicated her time and energy advocating for children of undocumented immigrants who were brought into this country and grew up as Americans, but are not even permanent residents," Lundquist said.
The college is creating a $2,500 matching scholarship in Tran's name and is hoping that more people come forward with donations to add to it.
"We don't know yet how much it's going to be," Lundquist said. "We hope to make it an annual scholarship."
Other criteria include academic performance with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and evidence of financial need.
"The award recipient should also be someone who will continue their education and go into a university after Santa Ana College," Lundquist said.
She praised Tran as a true leader, someone who will continue to inspire the future students of Santa Ana College.
"She was a humble leader who never saw herself as a leader or even as an honors student," Lundquist said. "She did not do what she did to become famous. She did it simply to get it done."
Yenni Diaz, spokeswoman for the Orange County DREAM Team, said the deaths of Tran and Perez have actually helped further fuel the movement.
"They were pioneers and worked very hard," Diaz said Wednesday morning to a crowd at the Los Amigos meeting in Anaheim.
Diaz and other members of the DREAM Team are expected to meet at Santa Ana College at 1:30 p.m. for an informal gathering and then participate in the ceremony at 2:30. The ceremony is open to members of the public. Students and faculty members will remember Tran during the ceremony, Lundquist said.
Tran was born to Vietnamese parents in Germany, but neither country would accept her. She was without a country when she arrived in the United States at age 6. She testified before Congress on May 18, 2007 for the DREAM Act with an emotional narration of her trials and tribulations as a child without country.
Her parents were arrested following her testimony, but those issues were later resolved.
The memorial ceremony will take place at Johnson Center, Room U 103. The college is at 1530 W. 17th St. in Santa Ana. Information: 714-480-7500.