The Illinois Education Association has chosen a local school counselor as the recipient of a civil rights award, citing her efforts to free a Honduran-native Crystal Lake Central High School student seeking immigration asylum.
Sara Huser of Crystal Lake has been awarded the Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award for her work as a school counselor at Central, according to a news release from the IEA.
When Huser learned that one of her senior students, Meydi Guzman Rivas, was arrested in October after allegedly missing an immigration court appearance, the counselor rallied the community to help raise awareness about the situation. Through a GoFundMe page, Huser also secured enough money to post Guzman Rivas’ bond Feb. 13.
“During their quest for asylum in the U.S., Sara has worked tirelessly to free Meydi from the prison she was held in for the last four months,” IEA media relations director Bridget Shanahan wrote in the release. “She became Meydi’s power of attorney, started a GoFundMe to help cover Meydi’s legal costs and found a law firm to take on Meydi’s case pro bono.”
Since her release, Guzman Rivas has returned to school and is living with the Husers and their four children in Crystal Lake.
During an interview with Huser last month, the school counselor said Guzman Rivas “fit right in” with the Huser family.
“It’s been wonderful,” Huser said. “She’s a great addition to our family.”
Guzman Rivas’ father, Fabio Guzman Reyes, was arrested at the same time as his daughter and has since been freed on bond. He now lives nearby in Crystal Lake, where he is able to regularly visit Guzman Rivas.
“It’s a little different because she’s my counselor at school, but they make me feel really good because they – all the family, the kids, her husband and [Huser] – they give me all the support,” Guzman Rivas said during a February interview with the Northwest Herald.
Huser continues to work alongside Guzman Rivas as the teenager seeks asylum to remain in the U.S. Despite four months of missed school work, Guzman Rivas is now on track to graduate with the rest of her class in the spring.
“Huser has truly gone above and beyond the duties and responsibilities associated with her job of being a high school counselor,” Shanahan wrote. “She has proven herself to be selfless and an advocate for our most vulnerable students. She took a courageous stand and continues to fight for her student today.”