Description and Pilot Evaluation of a Dreamer Ally Training for Higher Education Staff and Faculty


  • Ellen Hawley McWhirter University of Oregon
  • Kristin Yarris University of Oregon
  • Bryan Ovidio Rojas-Araúz University of Oregon



Dreamer, undocumented students, Ally training, self-efficacy


We describe a Dreamer Ally training provided to staff and faculty on a university campus and present results of a pilot evaluation of this training. The Dreamer Ally training was designed to (a) increase university faculty and staff awareness, understanding, and self-efficacy for working with Dreamer students and (b) stimulate action to make the campus more responsive to the challenges and contributions of Dreamer students. For the purpose of this study we define Dreamer students as inclusive of undocumented students, students with the temporary protection of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), students who qualify for the state’s tuition equity program, and students from mixed legal status families. Study goals were to describe the training, gather pilot data on participant learning goals, post-training satisfaction and self-efficacy for supporting Dreamer students, and generate participant feedback about utility of training components and their plans for subsequent action. Participants completed questionnaires before and after the training. Responses to open-ended questions indicated that most participants attended in order to learn how to better support Dreamer students. Paired samples (pre and post) t-tests indicated significantly higher self-efficacy for supporting Dreamer students at posttest. Participant satisfaction with the training was high and found the information session content and working through different Dreamer student scenarios most useful. Action plans included changing program or unit websites to be more inclusive of Dreamers. Limitations include the absence of a control group. Findings can inform institutional efforts to raise faculty and staff awareness of and responsiveness to the challenges facing Dreamer students.

Author Biographies

Ellen Hawley McWhirter, University of Oregon

Ellen Hawley McWhirter is the Ann Swindells Professor in Counseling Psychology and Director of the Spanish Language Psychological Services and Research Specialization at the University of Oregon.

Kristin Yarris, University of Oregon

Kristin Elizabeth Yarris is an Associate Professor in the Department of Global Studies at the University of Oregon. She also is Director of the UO Global Health Program.

Bryan Ovidio Rojas-Araúz, University of Oregon

Bryan Ovidio Rojas-Arauz is a doctoral candidate in the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Oregon, a former DREAMER, and a lifelong DREAMer activist.




How to Cite

McWhirter, E. H., Yarris, K., & Rojas-Araúz, B. O. (2021). Description and Pilot Evaluation of a Dreamer Ally Training for Higher Education Staff and Faculty. Journal for Social Action in Counseling & Psychology, 13(1), 2–22.