Define American Chapters - Define American

About Our

Define American Chapters are student-led initiatives to bring the conversation on immigrants and identity home to their college communities. Students receive the tools to reach out to people who have different opinions and backgrounds, and create opportunities for mutual understanding.

Download the Chapters Toolkit PDF

Are you graduating?

Stay involved in our Alumni Network

#Immigrad 2020 Graduation

Watch Define American’s massive online #Immigrad commencement ceremony to honor first, second, and third generation immigrant grads and supporters on campuses across the nation.


Your donation keeps the future bright.

Support our work today.

“Undocumented students want our voices to be heard, but sometimes we don’t want our faces to be seen,” - Salvador Chavero Arellano Thank you, Salvador, Ana, and the for continuing to share your stories and be a voice for undocumented students at Duke University.


Can't find a chapter at your school?
Start a Define American Chapter Today!

Start A Chapter

National Chapters Leadership

Samuel M. Tuero

Alumni Network National Representative Rutgers University-Camden

Samuel M. Tuero is a senior at Rutgers University-Camden where he majors in Political Science. Throughout his time as an undergraduate, he has been committed to engaging with the campus community on the topic of citizenship and immigration. He is currently working to create and provide resources for undocumented students on campus. As an ally, he hopes to learn how to better advocate and uplift the immigrant community.

Melani Cruz-Stokes

National Representative, East Region

Melani Cruz-Stokes is a Criminal Justice major, with a minor in Legal Studies. She is committed to activism and public service beyond her academics as an ally for the immigrant community. Alongside her chapter members, she is working towards providing resources for undocumented students on campus. As a U.S. citizen, she realizes the importance of allies to advocate for immigrant rights. Her goal is to train allies how to not be the voices for the community but to uplift their narratives. As an immigration attorney, she aspires to create more opportunities for others.

Malcolm Neale

National Representative, Great Lakes Region

Malcolm Neale is a first-generation, second-year college student with a major in Sociology, specializing in social inequality. Additionally, he has minors in English, ethnic studies, and social work. He grew up in a very small, rural town with very little opportunity to experience diversity and explore the various identities that make him up. With this, he intends to spend his college career and future as a social worker exploring his identity and lifting up others to do so themselves. His goal, as a member of Define American, is to spread awareness of diversity and identity on his campus and, eventually, to the greater Cleveland community.

Aly Diaz

National Representative, South Region

Aly Diaz is a junior at Duke University from Miami, Florida and if you listen to her talk for 5 minutes she will probably let you know. She is known as Mrs. 305 and completes her sentences with ‘Dale.’ She speaks English, Italian, Spanish, French (kinda rusty), and hopes to become polylingual. At home, she speaks Spanglish (aka her language of choice). She studies Public Policy at the Sanford School and History. She is passionate about increasing traditionally underrepresented community’s access and ability to influence public policy. Podcasts are her key sources of information and entertainment in addition to binge-watching documentary series on Netflix. She works at a local Durham non-profit, Student Action with Farmworkers, where she hopes she inspires farmworker youth to attend college despite the hardships they may face. If you would like to know what it was like growing up in a bilingual household or in an exile community you can find her in La Casa or training for her first 5k.

Yanelit Madriz

National Representative, West Region

Yanelit Madriz is an undocumented ally, a proud chicana, and proud daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is a first-generation student pursuing her associates for art transfer degree in sociology and her certificate of achievement in social welfare at Berkeley City College. She is a caregiver for children with autism and a mental health advocate at the Undocumented Community Resource Center at B.C.C. Being a daughter of undocumented parents, she has witnessed and expirenced the hardships they go through in this country; therfore, she does her best to be the best ally possible. Whenever she meets someone undocumented and looks into their eyes, She is looking into the eyes of her parents. Through Define American, she will create more mental health awareness in the undocumented community. She hopes to not be the voice of undocumented Americans, but to help raise their voices and share their stories to change the narrative of immigration, one story at a time.

Jorge Contreras

National Representative, Midwest Region

Jorge Contreras is a native of San Luis Potosi, Mexico he moved to the United States at the age of 2 with his parents in search of new opportunities and a better education for him and his two siblings. Growing up in the small border town of La Feria, Texas, Jorge was able to embrace his Mexican heritage as well as getting to love the American way of life. Education and servitude played a major role in the development of Jorge from high school into the transition of college due to his mother’s influence. It was from her influence that he was able to graduate at the top of his class and is currently attending the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley. Jorge was able to stay close to home as well as advocating for undocumented students within the university. Being a Biology major with a psychology minor, has helped him have a career aspiration of becoming a doctor and coming back to the Rio Grande Valley and help establish programs that will better the community.

Define American Chapters come together at our annual summit!



We Use the Power of Our Intersectional Stories to Create Change

The power of storytelling to create meaningful change is at the core of our movement. Define American was established in 2011, after our founder Jose Antonio Vargas came out as an undocumented immigrant in an essay published in The New York Times Magazine. Its publishing has inspired hundreds of people to share their immigrant and ally stories publicly and online. We commit to telling stories that fully represent our communities and our country.

We Elevate The Conversation About American Identity

At Define American we use stories, art and culture to encourage our audience to think critically about American identity, and in the process inspire new ideas and conversations about our nation’s current immigration system.

We Believe in Making The United States A More Welcoming Nation

Our ideals remind us that we are all created equal and that our strength lies in the forging of a nation based on shared values and common purpose. We support a vision in which all people, including immigrants, have the opportunity to reach their greatest potential, engage with their community and fully contribute their talents — expanding prosperity and wellbeing for all.

We Bring and Include Everyone in The Conversation

At Define American, we realize that to create meaningful change, we must engage beyond our core base of supporters. This means that we avoid polarizing language and actions, and instead focus on finding common ground and putting forth relatable stories and messages in an effort to create understanding outside our typical audience. It also means, that we are not solely storytellers, we are also listeners.

We Believe in Equity of Education for Everyone Regardless of Status

Together at the first ever Define American Chapters Summit in 2017, 13 of our chapters voted to add this to our chapters principle. We believe that education from kindergarten to university and everything in between should be available to everyone, regardless of immigration status. This means equal access to tuition rates, scholarships, and campus resources. We have the power and commitment to ensure that students don’t have a less fulfilling educational experience just because they weren’t born in this country.

We All Define American

“How do YOU define American?” — this one question opens up infinite possibilities to accomplish innovative systemic change. We believe through being proactive, and not reactive, we can shift conversations about immigrants in the United States. Through provocative and uncomfortable conversations we create teachable moments, and we also use them to learn more about the point of view of others. Using this approach we aim to be trailblazers, and create a one-of-a-kind student movement.