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Undocumented UNC student will continue fight for affordable education

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Emilio Vicente says he is the first openly gay, undocumented student to run for student body president at UNC. Emilio Vicente says he is the first openly gay, undocumented student to run for student body president at UNC.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student who claimed to be the first openly homosexual undocumented immigrant to run for student body president said he will continue to work to ensure the university "is affordable, diverse, and reflective of its many voices."

Andrew Powell won the race for student body president Tuesday, however Emilio Vicente said he will continue working with the student body to ensure the university is "affordable."

A record number of students voted in this year's student body president election runoff.

"The record scope of your engagement matches that of the challenges we face together as a university," Vicente wrote in a message to the student body. "I look forward to working with all of you to ensure our university is affordable, diverse and reflective of its many voices."

Vicente has lived in North Carolina for 15 years, but he says his status at Carolina is an international student because he's undocumented. Because he's an international student, Vicente said he pays high tuition and does not qualify for government assistance.

He said he pays for school through a private scholarship.

Vicente said he hoped his campaign would have a benefit beyond UNC's campus.

"Win or lose, I hope this continues to drive the conversation of there needs to be reform in the immigration system," Vicente said. "We need to fix the immigration system."

Powell called Vicente a "very strong candidate."

"It's been terrific to get to know him over the past few weeks," Powell said Wednesday.

Powell will assume the role of student body president in April.

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