John Jay Students and Dreamers Help Ring the NASDAQ Bell

John Jay Students and Dreamers Help Ring the NASDAQ Bell

John Jay Students and Dreamers Help Ring the NASDAQ Bell

June is Immigrant Heritage Month. In celebration of immigrants and their valuable contributions to our country, Stand Together, a philanthropic community that tackles some of our nation’s biggest challenges, asked John Jay students and Dreamers to help ring the NASDAQ bell on Wednesday, June 5. The event gave our students the chance to experience an iconic American tradition, while also feeling included by notable companies such as Microsoft, Uber, and Gap. On the podium our students joined Dreamer employees from Microsoft, leaders from organizations such as the National Immigration Forum, and influential Dreamers from around the country. They also saw a larger-than-life photo of themselves splashed over the NASDAQ Stock Exchange Building in Times Square.  

We spoke with John Eric II Ilawan ’20, a senior majoring in Criminal Justice and Humanities and Justice, and Cynthia Nayeli Carvajal, the Manager of the Immigrant Student Success Center, to learn more about their experience and to fully understand the impact of the event.

John Jay Students and Dreamers at NASDAQ

Why was this event so important for this group of students to attend, especially at the beginning of Immigrant Heritage month?

Cynthia Nayeli Carvajal: When stories, narratives, and experiences are highlighted, it’s important that those individuals are present and given the platform to represent themselves. When I was approached with this opportunity, I reached out to students who have shared their stories on campus and advocated for their right to an education and their right to thrive in this country. When we think of Immigrant Heritage Month it’s often conflated with Latinx identities, but this is an issue that impacts communities from all over the world. It was important that this group also represented the complexities of this experience, in addition to the nuances of a broken immigration system.

John Eric II Ilawan: This event was important for this group of students to attend because we wanted to let the world know who we are and why we’re here. It’s a great way to kickoff Immigrant Heritage Month, especially with the magnitude and size of this event.

“The students were awestruck to be in a space like NASDAQ and to meet Dreamers, undocumented folks, and immigrants from other parts of the country.” —Cynthia Nayeli Carvajal

What were some of the thoughts and feelings expressed during the event?

Ilawan: Some of the thoughts and feelings that I felt during this event was joy and stoicism. Never in my life did I think I would see myself on a Times Square screen. What makes it even better is that I’m surrounded by my fellow peers, who I confide in, and who give me inspiration to continue what I’m doing. 

Carvajal: The students were awestruck to be in a space like NASDAQ and to meet Dreamers, undocumented folks, and immigrants from other parts of the countryfrom activists in Arizona to computer engineers at Microsoft. But the students also shared the importance of these celebrations to create opportunities to collaborate and to have intentional conversations. They shared that they enjoy being a part of an event like this, but when the event is over, there is still work that needs to be done. There needs to be continuous efforts to create jobs for undocumented folks, opportunities to connect across the country, and resources for everyone.

John Jay Students and Dreamers at NASDAQ

“Seeing the John Jay group photo on that screen made me realize that moments like these are what dreams are made of.” —John Eric II Ilawan ’20

What was surprising about the experience?

Carvajal: I’ve seen the bell rung on morning news segments and it was surreal to be a part of it. It gave us an insight to how these kinds of events work. We had to continuously cheer for almost three minutes while the reception went live to various news stations. It was fun to walk out to times square and see our picture on the building.

Ilawan: What was surprising was seeing myself and my peers on a Times Square screen. Seeing the John Jay group photo on that screen made me realize that moments like these are what dreams are made of. 

Stand Together was pivotal in making this event happen for our students. What do you see in their organization that feels similar to the John Jay community?

Ilawan: What I see in Stand Together and John Jay that feels similar is the mission to bring justice for communities that are of low- income and wanting to give them an opportunity to realize their potential.

Carvajal: I’m so appreciative that Stand Together extended this opportunity to our students. They were thrilled to be a part of the excitement and it’s an event that they’ll never forget.