Marcela Lacayo is a fourth year student at the University of California, Berkeley, pursuing a B.A. in Ethnic Studies with a minor in Education. Marcela was born and raised in Managua, Nicaragua. She migrated to the United States at the age of 13 to live in San Jose, California with her family.
Being undocumented, Marcela faced many challenges in her journey pursuing higher education but found community in other undocumented people who were willing to provide guidance and support as she learned to navigate the university system. Due to this experience, Marcela plans to pursue a career in higher education counseling. She hopes to provide holistic, strength-based counseling for underrepresented students by sharing resources and creating spaces where students feel seen and heard.
In her community, Marcela works as a Peer Academic Counselor for UC Berkeley’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Undocumented Student Program (USP). Through this position, she provides holistic peer counseling to first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students through one-on-one academic advising appointments. Marcela also serves as the Community Engagement Chair for Rising Immigrants Scholars through Education (RISE) where she puts together community-building events for undocumented students. Furthermore, Marcela supports the planning of Undocugrad, a graduation specifically for undocumented students to celebrate their success and future endeavors.
As a Dream SF Fellow, Marcela is placed at Catholic Charities’ Center for Immigration Legal and Support Services, where she assists in the provision of social services for Undocumented Unaccompanied Minors (UUMs). Through this role, she collaborates with community partners and coordinates programming activities for the unaccompanied minors to provide them with a safe and emotionally supportive environment. In her free time, Marcela enjoys watching movies and going to amusement parks, especially Disneyland. She also enjoys talking about astrology, trying new foods, and spending time with friends.