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Julissa Arce

Julissa Arce

Julissa Arce is a political commentator, speaker, writer and the author of My (Underground) American Dream (Entre Las Sombras del Sueño Americano). She has become a leading national voice in the fight for social justice, immigrant rights and education equality. A contributor for CNBC and the Huffington Post, her writing has been featured also by CNN, The Hill, Refinery29, CNN en Español, and Fusion, among other national outlets. Arce is the chairman and co-founder of the Ascend Educational Fund (AEF), a college scholarship and mentorship program for immigrant students in New York City, regardless of their ethnicity, national original or immigration status. She made national and international headlines when she revealed that she had achieved the American Dream of wealth and status at Goldman Sachs while undocumented.

In My (Underground) American Dream, Julissa used her own inspirational story to change the conversation around immigration, by exploring the polarizing question: for an undocumented immigrant, what is the true cost of the American dream?

In the heady days of the most astronomical stock-market rise in Wall Street history, Julissa Arce climbed the corporate ladder—a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties. In 2005, against all odds, she landed one of the most coveted jobs as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Over the course of the next six years, even while the financial markets crashed, she continued to climb the corporate ladder—riding a series of promotions to become a Vice President, complete with a high six-figure salary and all of the perks that come with living the Goldman Sachs life. What none of her colleagues knew was that she wasn't just a young woman who broke through ceilings in a cutthroat male-dominated field: she was also an undocumented American from Mexico. My (Underground) American Dream challenges our perceptions of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant. During the current political climate where immigrants seeking refuge are at America’s doorstep and on our minds, Arce’s personal story of sacrifice, pain and suffering seeks to add a new perspective that will echo the stories of millions living here without a voice.

Arce has used her success and her platform to help shift the conversation around immigration and other social justice issues. Arce has given talks at TEDx and the Forbes Reinventing America Summit (alongside Nancy Pelosi, Jessica Alba, and Gayle King) and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Fox Business News, Telemundo, Bloomberg TV and Univision. She serves on the board of directors of the National Immigration Law Center and CollegeSpring. She was officially sworn in as an American citizen in August of 2014.


Sponsored by the Department of Languages, Cultures and Humanities, the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work, the Office of Diversity, and the Honors Program.

Published on September 28, 2017

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