PoliSci Student Among Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 College Women

Photo by Larissa Hamblin

A UCF senior’s advocacy for undocumented minors has earned her a spot as one of Glamour Magazine’s 10 College Women of the Year for 2018.

Karen Caudillo’s tearful interview with the Guardian newspaper after a Capitol Hill hearing went viral when it was broadcast on social media, including to NowThis’ 14 million Facebook followers. Caudillo and other students were protesting a proposal to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which spares minors brought across the border without documentation from deportation if they meet certain criteria like school enrollment. Legal challenges have kept DACA active a year later, although its future remains uncertain.

Caudillo personally benefits from DACA as a Political Science major at UCF. She traveled from Mexico with her parents and sibling when she was four years old and started a new life with her family in Naples. Receiving DACA allowed her to apply and receive scholarship through an organization that specifically helps “Dreamers”: Dream.Us. Caudillo says she chose Political Science as a major because it allows her to understand the intricacies of the political system from the inside out.

The opportunity to create change with a college degree drives Caudillo, but it’s family that really inspires her.

“My mother and my grandmother didn’t have the chance to go to college,” Caudillo says. “That really empowers me. I want to help break the cycle and be the difference.”

To “be the difference” takes several forms for Caudillo. On campus she’s served in the Student Government Association as a senator and the vice chair of the student advocacy committee. In that role she passed a resolution to open an early polling site on campus and, as an organizer for NextGen America, she worked to register, educate and drive students to the polls. Her goal after graduation in a year is to pursue a career championing immigrant rights and protecting the environment.

The award from Glamour Magazine puts in her company with other women equally passionate about causes ranging from sexual harassment education to sustainable food pantries.

It was an encouragement, Caudillo says, but also a reminder of all the work left to do.

“I look forward to (UCF) continuing to grow in support of students like myself. As a Hispanic-serving institute we need to make this a priority,” she said.



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