It’s all too easy to read recent news about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and think of dreamers in the abstract, forgetting the communities they’re a vital part of. At Queens, dreamer Kayley Marchena ’19 is president of the junior class, president of the physics club, vice president of the American Chemistry Society, society chair for the Kappa Delta sorority. She’s also a physics major minoring in biological chemistry. It’s safe to say she’s busy.
And she’s been busy for a while — Marchena surpassed multiple obstacles in life to get to the point she’s at today.
“I like being in leadership positions when it comes to things I like to do,” said Marchena. Not one to be caught with free time, she splits her time between various organizations on campus, taking on roles as president of the junior class and physics club, vice president for the American Chemistry Society, and society chair for the Kappa Delta sorority. These time commitments have not prevented Marchena from balancing work and social life.
“A badass” is the way senior Jose Ramon Contreras Rangel describes Marchena.
Marchena and Contreras are both Golden Door Scholars, a scholarship that supports DACA students at American universities. The two have built a strong relationship with one another over the course of their three years at Queens. Marchena is a first-generation college student who immigrated from Canada and dealt with language barriers and the difficulty of fitting in. “My parents were a great support system. They just couldn’t help me in the way I needed them,” said Marchena.
This is frequently a difficulty faced by DACA and first-generation students — no one in the family to provide guidance to navigate college.
In response to the Trump administration’s recent decision to rescind DACA, Marchena said, “I wish people would educate themselves. Understand the topic or don’t talk about it at all.”
In Marchena’s Queens experience, this is a place she can call home. Other schools interested her, but, with a soft smile lighting up her face, she said that they didn’t feel at home compared to Queens. The “small school in a big city” campus atmosphere is what ultimately drew Marchena in.
She plans on pursuing medical school after graduating. In the meantime, she manages her time between many campus organizations. Juan Diego Mazuera, sophomore, said she is very encouraging and supportive of other students.
Whenever Marchena is not studying, attending classes, organizing events, or nannying on weekday afternoons, fellow students can find her at local coffee shops. Occasionally she watches television with friends. Hearing her say, “I like being in the driver’s seat,” one gets the sense that she’s only beginning her journey.
Photograph of Kayley Marchena