Harvard Grad Wins Double Award: Fellowship and DACA

Harvard Grad Wins Double Award: Fellowship and DACA

"Pierre Berastaín has focused his energies on what connects us, what restores us and what fortifies us. The graduate of R. L. Turner High in Carrollton is co-founder of the Boston-based Restorative Justice Collaborative. He’s working on his second degree at Harvard, at the Divinity School.

The Restorative Justice Collaborative operates as a clearinghouse for those working with the traumatized in domestic violence or homeless shelters or simply reconstructing their lives after the death of the loved one from violence. Those practicing restorative justice, Pierre says, are there long after officials from the state like lawyers, judges and the police have gone.

Pierre’s on a fund-raising campaign now for the Collaborative. They’d like to expand their work, maybe take it inside prisons.

To advance that work and other projects, Berastaín was awarded Harvard’s Presidential Public Service Fellowship a few weeks ago. The Harvard president, Drew Faust, throws in a fat chunk of change–$8,000.

I’ve known Pierre for some years, profiled him in The Dallas Morning News as an immigrant kid who came to Dallas from Lima, Peru, in 1998 with college-educated parents who overstayed their visas.

Pierre recently qualified for an initiative of the Obama administration with an awkward name but a powerful result, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. It means he’ll be free from deportation, get a work permit and a Social Security card so that he can get paid for the labor he’s volunteered these many years.

He wrote his story in this “I-am-not-a-criminal” essay for the Huffington Post. Sen. *** Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, had something to say about him, too.

Pierre once told me he didn’t want to be known for his immigration status, but for his justice work. And so he is." - Dianne Solís, Dallas Morning News, June 7, 2013.