TED Talks

S1 E3 | CLIP

The Education Revolution: Freedom University

Georgia is one of three US states that have banned undocumented students from attending state universities. Started by a group of professors, Freedom University provides an “underground” alternative for undocumented students who are trying to get an education – including Arizbeth, a high school senior whom the film follows.

AIRED: September 13, 2016 | 0:03:21

Arizbeth, voice-over: I grew up most of my life in Georgia.

I arrived here when I was 6.

I barely have memories of Mexico,

and all my life has been here.

I remember I started thinking about college

when I was in ninth grade in high school.

I kind of knew it would be hard here as an undocumented person.

It feels like Georgia doesn't want me, and that's--

It's heartbreaking because it's my home,

it's all I've ever known.

I feel like I have American values.

Like, you went to kindergarten with these people,

all through high school,

you were equal, you were the same,

and then all of a sudden, you're not,

and it's just because I wasn't born here.

I want to study computer software engineering,

and I want to be a part of the people

who just advance our world.


Hola. Cómo estás?

So my dad found out about Freedom University

in, like, a tiny newspaper clipping.

It talked about this organization

that helped undocumented students go to college.

Like, it helped them find, um, financial aid,

find colleges that will actually accept them,

and we learn, which is what we want to do.

In Georgia, for undocumented students,

it's just not something easy to achieve.

Voekel: You want to apply to a place called Tougaloo,

a historically black college in Jackson, Mississippi.

Tougaloo has scholarships for undocumented students...

Voekel, voice-over: I got involved from the get-go

as soon as they decided to ban students

from the University of Georgia and the top 5 research colleges.

Um, we were contacted and got in touch

with a couple of undocumented students.

We asked, "What can we do?"

And they said, "What you can do is offer classes,"

and so that's what we did.

Male Student: Freedom University is like a second home.

People that go there, they really want to to learn,

and they--I mean, I leave that place pumped, you know.

Like, I learn so many things every class that I go there.

Female professor: We're going to go through

College Admissions 101.

We're going to talk about the college application.

We're going to talk about college funding.

Arizbeth, voice-over: Freedom U completely changed me.

I went--I came out of my shell,

the shell that I was forced to be in

by my undocumented status,

and I found my voice.