Rigo Padilla Pérez was the heart of Solorio High School’s DREAM Team for Undocumented Students and Allies. As the Undocumented Student Support Specialist and Post Secondary College and Career Coach, he was our fearless Sun Warrior for nine years. He fought for the rights of undocumented students and worked tirelessly to create more opportunities for all. Before coming to Solorio, Rigo was a nationally recognized organizer for immigrant rights – his courage in the face of his own deportation changed the national conversation on immigration, ushering in a wave of new leaders who bravely told their stories even in the face of family separation, detention, and deportation. His deep compassion coupled with his clarity that things must and should be better, led him to impact thousands of lives – from coaching the girls soccer team, to navigating complicated systems with parents and students, to organizing in the neighborhood he called home. His passing has left a void in our community, and has inspired us to continue his legacy of advocacy and activism. We will always remember Rigo with love, and we dedicate the DREAM Team Scholarship that he founded, in his honor.
"In the United States, the legal system puts us undocumented folk in the shadows. You can’t come out of the shadows unless there is light. Rigo fought with us, for justice. Rigo was the light that made me, and all other folks, believe that I could do anything, so I do! "
-Aryam '20, University of San Diego '24
"In the path of my dreams, Rigo's light will forever guide me. As a beacon of hope for our community, he guides the undocumented youth to a better future. With unwavering support, he paved me a path to college, sculpting my future with every scholarship application, every financial aid form, and every piece of advice. Though he has left this world, his legacy lives on, etched in the gratitude of the undocumented hearts he empowered. Through him, I soar, and my dreams continue to stay lit with the spark he ignited."
Osvaldo '22, DePaul University '26
"Rigo not only helped guide me through my whole college application, he also made the impossible seem possible. I never imagined that as an undocumented student I was going to be able to go to a private university in Ohio with a Posse grant. Rigo motivated me, he gave me courage, and he never made me feel alone. Rigo taught me that hard work pays off and that we should never give up on our dreams. He taught me to be brave and embrace who I am no matter where I go. Every time I felt frustrated or did not know what to do, I would always call Rigo. Rigo taught me how to embrace myself and not be afraid of who I am or where I come from. I don’t let anyone tell me what I can or cannot achieve. He taught me to keep fighting for our rights and to not forget our community. Rigo believed in me when I didn’t. At Oberlin I am in Obies for Undocumented Inclusion where I continue to fight for undocumented people’s rights.
I am sure I am just one of the many students Rigo impacted, and I will forever be thankful for him. Rigo never said no when it came to helping his students. I will make sure to keep telling his story, and I will keep working to graduate and keep helping our undocumented community. I will make sure to keep making Rigo proud."
Andrea '21, Oberlin University '25
The Solorio DREAM Team is a safe space led by undocumented students and allies advocating for the rights of immigrants and supporting their post-high school plans. Being part of DREAM Team gives us a perspective of what it means to be undocumented. An essential part of being undocumented means to not have access to the same financial aid opportunities as our peers, means to be living in perpetual fear of deportation and familial separation, means facing undignified discrimination, and means having to be pressured to work harder in spite of the uncertainty of ever attaining our goals.
Since many undocumented communities are anchored and disarrayed by this precipice, you can help us overcome one of the many burdens by donating to our undocumented student scholarship! By donating, you’ll play a large role in making our undocumented students and alumni dreams come true.
My name is Albino Javier Salinas Jaimes, and I am graduating from Illinois Institute of Chicago (Illinois Tech) this Spring with a degree in Architecture and a specialization in Visual Design. Architecture is about solving problems and understanding the context beyond the defined borders of a site. It is the practice of delivering solutions and understanding the greater picture. It is the practice of giving birth to form and function, from concept and purpose. Giving shape to light and shadow, molding the Earth and casting permanence into existence, in order to give purpose and meaning to space. Architecture is the story of civilization's past, present, and future. It is the living story of how our society is progressing to a greater future, and I want to be part of that contribution that pushes for greatness. Being awarded The Dream Team Scholarship reminds me everyday that I can become something in life and create purpose for others.
My dream of becoming an architect is almost here! Now, I have to face another challenge, and that is making it happen in the real world. I am thankful for the generous educational scholarship that Solorio has offered to selected DREAMERS (me being one of them). Being undocumented puts a great financial burden and great uncertainty towards completing postsecondary education for many, but I was fortunate to receive help and finish my degree. To the people who pushed for this scholarship to happen, I would like to thank you for all your doing. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope that one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me. Thank you for the financial support. Thank you for allowing me to keep dreaming big.
-Albino Salinas Jaimes ‘16, Illinois Institute of Technology '22
I am an undocumented student and a current DACA recipient. I am the youngest of five siblings and the first to graduate high school. When I graduated from Eric Solorio Academy High School in 2015, I was unsure of the future. I wondered if I was going to be able to continue my education due to my financial strain. As an undocumented student, I cannot apply for Federal Financial Aid. Being the first to graduate in my family, we, unfortunately, did not have a savings plan for my college expenses. However, I enrolled in Harold Washington Community College in Fall 2015. Within two years, I obtained my Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice. With the help of the Solorio Dream Team Scholarship, I was able to transfer to Eastern Illinois University, where I obtained my Bachelor's in Sociology with a minor in Criminology and Spanish in 2019. Although it was not an easy journey, I would not have been able to accomplish this without the help of the scholarship. I also received emotional support from my high school's amazing counselors. Being an undocumented student can bring uncertainty to our future; however, with the help of the Solorio Dream Team Scholarship, I was able to keep Dreaming big. Thanks to this scholarship, I continue to dream big, and I am on my way to pursue my Masters in College of Student Affairs.
-Yesenia Muruato ‘ 15, Eastern Illinois University ‘19
Copyright © 2023 Friends of Solorio - All Rights Reserved.