Women at center of ‘undocumented’ revelations will speak at event sponsored by Rice’s Tapia Center


David Ruth

Mike Williams

Women at center of ‘undocumented’ revelations will speak at event sponsored by Rice’s Tapia Center 

HOUSTON – (June 20, 2016) – Two young women who revealed their undocumented status at the time of their graduation from high school and a third who drove thousands of miles to bring her undocumented mother to her college commencement at Harvard last month will be part of a panel discussion presented by Rice University’s Richard Tapia Center for Excellence and Equality Tuesday, June 21.

The event, “The Importance of Education for All,” will be held at the Ripley House Neighborhood Center, 4410 Navigation Blvd., Houston, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

All three women garnered national press for their revelations and the aftermath. 

Norma Torres Mendoza, a 2013 graduate of Rice and now a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, flew to Houston in May to pick up her mother and drive her to Massachusetts to attend her commencement. She feared that her mother would be detained at the airport if she attempted to fly.

The Texas high school students, Larissa Martinez and Mayte Lara Ibarra, were valedictorians and revealed their status on the occasion of their graduations, Martinez from the lectern and Ibarra on Twitter before the event. Ibarra graduated from David Crockett High School in Austin and will attend the University of Texas at Austin, and Martinez graduated from McKinney High School in McKinney and will attend Yale University.

Joining them on the panel will be Richard Tapia, a University Professor and mathematician at Rice who was the first Hispanic elected to the National Academy of Engineering and was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama in 2011; State Sen. Sylvia Garcia; Juliet Stipeche, director of education for the city of Houston; and Houston immigration attorney Charles Foster.

The Tapia Center is dedicated to advancing women and minorities through their higher education goals, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

What: A panel discussion titled “The Importance of Education for All.”

When: Tuesday, June 21, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Ripley House Neighborhood Center, 4410 Navigation Blvd., Houston.

Tapia is available to speak with media about the event today, and press are invited to cover the event on Tuesday. Contact Jaime Rodriguez at the Tapia Center at 202-905-3652 or tapiacenter@rice.edu or Mike Williams at Rice Public Affairs at 713-348-6728 or mikewilliams@rice.edu.


Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews

Related materials:

2 valedictorians in Texas declare undocumented status, and outrage ensues:


She had to drive her mom 2,000 miles to see her graduate from Harvard. Here’s why:


Tapia Center at Rice: tapiacenter.rice.edu

Tapia Magazine: https://issuu.com/tapiacenter/docs/tapia_magazine_april_2016_v.3

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for best quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.


About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.