November 5

Maverick of the Month – Jarryd Willis

This past September, Jarryd Willis, a doctoral student in psychology, was awarded the Maverick of the Month distinction. So who exactly is Jarryd Willis? Well, he is a graduate student, a social psychology instructor, a Huffington Post blogger, a TEDx speaker, and someone who is changing the world. Rather than just talk about things he wants changed, Jarryd created an organization to make change. As you can tell, there are many ways that Jarryd exemplifies The Maverick Way, but we are going to focus on his organization the DREAM Factory, which was the reason he was nominated and won the award.

     Jarryd is the President/Creator of DREAM Factory an organization he started to help undocumented students as well as those who are “DACAmented.” So what exactly does DACAmented mean? I’m glad you asked. Well, it refers to the 2012 US policy that allows undocumented youth to apply for deferred action on their status in the United States. Basically, it postpones the government’s decision to remove a person for as long as they are able to acquire DACA status. It goes without saying that the application process can be confusing and intimidating to fill out.

    Jarryd founded the DREAM Factory to help people with this process. The DREAM Factory’s primary service is to provide free deferred action clinics for undocumented students (and soon undocumented adults) in the DFW area. Jarryd states that “In our first DACA clinic on October 4th, we assisted undocumented high school & college students around the DFW area.” But his aspirations for this organization don’t stop there. He wants to create a safe place for DREAMers at UT Arlington by training a strong network of safe-zone allies (of faculty, staff, & students.) When asked why he started the organization, Jarryd replied that “It’s important to raise more awareness of immigration issues here in Texas and nationally so people understand that those affected by the immigration debate are their friends, classmates, and co-workers.”

    All students are encouraged to participate in this organization, regardless of their ethnic background or national origin. Jarryd emphasized that “This is not just a Hispanic issue – it affects all communities & everyone has a role to play.” The organization has a Facebook and Twitter account in addition to being on MavOrgs. Their second DACA clinic is at the Center for Mexican American Studies on November 15th (10am -2 pm.)

    While Jarryd is busy with his organization, he also has to find time to write his dissertation and plan for his future. Not surprisingly, when asked about his ideal career after graduate school, Jarryd’s answer was as varied as the many interests he currently pursues. His ideal career would be a dual lecturer for Social and Political Psychology courses. He noted that “I love watching my students grow & succeed – there’s something addicting about contributing to the success of our next generation.” He also listed applied statistician/consultant, public speaking, advocacy, and community service as interests that might direct his future career, ideally working alongside organizations like United We Dream, Voto Latino, and GLAAD.

    Jarryd is definitely more than capable of excelling in every one of these careers. He has the determination and drive to accomplish great things and we can’t wait to see where he goes after his time at UT Arlington. If you want to speak with Jarryd about the DREAM Factory or any of his other interests check out his Facebook and Twitter pages for the organization.


Posted November 5, 2014 by Brenda Davis in category Graduate Student Spotlight, Uncategorized

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