TheDream.US is on a mission to get as many DACA, undocumented and first-generation students to college. The organization first launched in 2014 and has already helped 1,700 students afford the dream of a college education. If you are a DACA-recipient and you need some cash for college, you should totally give TheDream.US a visit.
Since 2014, TheDream.US has been partnering with educational institutions across the country to get more DACA students educated.
There are a total of 77 college success programs, community colleges and universities in TheDream.US’ network of schools in 14 states and Washington, D.C. The institutions have to meet a criteria before the organization reaches out to offer the program with a focus on states and regions with a high population of DACA, undocumented and first-generation students.
“One of the things that we do is we look for colleges that show success and for us success means: that they are graduating students, they are either committed or will be DREAMer serving institutes or institutions,” Gaby Pacheco, an immigrant activist and the Program Director for Scholar Programs and Advocacy, told mitú. “We also look for partner colleges who have a history of serving low-income/first-generation students and we ask all of our partner colleges that, as their commitment, to provide a designated scholar advisor who is going to shepherd and help and support our students.”
Now, it’s important to know that the organization offers two kinds of scholarships: the National and the Opportunity Scholarship.
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“The whole idea is that the students who are [enrolled] can go to a community college, graduate and then go to a university,” Pacheco told mitú. “Or, instead of graduating from a community college, can just go to a university.”
“For the opportunity scholarships, it’s a little bit different and the way the opportunity scholarships work is that we’ve targeted 16 states that either prevent people who have DACA to go to college or ask them to pay the out-of-state tuition, which makes it practically impossible for these students to afford the tuition,” Pacheco told mitú. “So, those students that live in those states can apply for those scholarships.”
The organization started with the help of a man named Don Graham.
“It all started because Don Graham had a scholarship program in DC and he would always hear about students who couldn’t go to college or couldn’t afford it,” Pacheco told mitú. “Being the fighter and being that person, at least here in DC that has been fighting like no other on insuring that people have access to education and higher education, he said, ‘We have to right this wrong.'”
Pacheco also mentioned that the talk of immigration reform becoming a viable policy spurred the organization to get things rolling to help students achieve their dreams.
Pacheco believes in the program because our job society places a higher value on education.
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“I went to college when I was undocumented and when I got DACA I was kind of ahead of the game of a lot of people because I had received an education and I could apply for the kinds of jobs the required bachelor’s degrees,” Pacheco told mitú. “So, it’s just a way to be ahead of the game for many things and, of course, a lot of young people have had those dreams to go to college and their dreams have been deferred because they don’t have access to the funding.”
And many immigration policies have education components.
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“On the immigration front, every piece of legislation that we’ve seen that specifically targets or talks about this population, there’s always an education component,” Pacheco told mitú. “We’re telling people that it’s just a way to get prepared for something that it’s been long-coming but we know, eventually, we’ll get here. With DACA, for example, people are now able to use their education that they have received.”
TheDream.US hopes to leave behind a legacy of educated people and educational institutions that will help similar students in the future.
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“Our goals are to leave behind over 4,000 graduates who can contribute to the socioeconomic prosperity of not just themselves or their families, but also the communities that they live in. We also want to leave behind institutions that are ready to serve these students and are ready to serve immigrants and can help beyond the students that we graduate as well,” Pacheco told mitú about the organization’s overall goal. “The other thing that we want to do is increase college access for these students. We shouldn’t have to do this, you know, colleges and universities like any other student that comes and live in the community should be providing them with the same tuition as anyone else.”
The application process for these scholarships is currently open and closes early 2017.
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The National Scholarship is open until March 8, 2017 and the Opportunity Scholarship closes February 1, 2017. So, if any of these scholarships apply to you, log onto thedream.us and fill out the application. There is so much money waiting for you.
Once in a while, a story comes along that makes you realize that the phrase “you can do anything you put your mind to”, isn’t just an old cliche. One California Latino man proved that the phrase has some truth behind it.
62-year-old Joseph Valadez just graduated with honors from Cal State Long Beach after spending the half of his adult life behind bars.
Valadez’s story went viral when one of his fellow students tweeted about the California Latino man’s incredible story. “This man accomplished something incredible AND took the coldest pic of 2021,” said that caption.
The post is a screenshot of a Facebook post Valadez wrote, accompanied by some stunning graduation photos of the 62-year-old.
“I finished my last two semester at Long Beach on the ‘President’s Honor List’ for making straight As,” wrote Valadez on the CSULB alumni Facebook group. “Was also on the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.67. Not bad for someone who spent half his adult life in prison.”
“There’s a misconception about guys like me that I want to break,” he added. “If I can do it, anyone can.”
Since the picture went viral, Valadez opened up about the journey that took him from rock bottom to where he is now.
Like many people in the prison system, addiction fueled Valadez’s life of crime. In an interview with Long Beach Post, he revealed that he began using heroine when he first joined the army at the age of 18.
“All the crimes I did were related to trying to get drugs, selling drugs,” the California Latino man told the Long Beach Post. He would spend 38 years of his life battling addiction.
After that, his life spiraled into a cycle of addiction, homelessness, violence, and crime. In total, Valadez has been to prison 40 times. He has spent more than 30 years behind bars.
Valadez finally decided to change his life in his 50s, when he realized that if he kept living this way, he would die soon.
On some real, it's never too late to go back to school. And you do not need to go at a certain time in your life. So take your time, once you feel ready, hit the books. You wont be judged and shouldn't be. There's nothing wrong with growing and you should always be proud of it.
In 2013, Valadez checked into an adult rehab facility. He stayed there for a year while he got clean. Soon after, he enrolled in Orange Coast Community College before ultimately transferring to Cal State Long Beach. In total, it took six years of challenging coursework for him to graduate. But from the look of pride in Valadez’s face, it was worth it.
Throughout his journey in the educational system, however, Valadez has discovered all the ways that the system failed him. Despite getting good grades in high school, teachers didn’t suggest college as an option for him. Instead, they suggested he pursue landscaping or construction. Similarly, when Valadez bounced in and out of jail due to his addiction, no one ever suggested rehab as a way for him to break the cycle.
Now, Valadez wants to take the lessons he learned and give back to his community.
At CSULB, Valadez excelled in sociology, and was interested in exploring how the criminal justice system is set up to target people of color. “I know a little bit about that subject because I lived it,” he said. “I wanted to understand the ‘why?’.” As of now, he is waiting to see if he gets accepted into CSULB’s Social Work masters program.
Valadez wants to use his new degree to help young kids who are at-risk of being failed by the system, like he was. “I’m going to inspire somebody, I’m going to motivate somebody, I’m going to give somebody hope,” he said. “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”
During a town hall on Tuesday, President Joe Biden underlined the importance of ensuring that teachers are moved up higher on the list of those who are getting vaccinated for Covid-19.
Speaking about his latest efforts, the president stated that teachers should be moved up in the hierarchy and answered a question from a high school teacher about his plans to safely reopen schools. In his answer, Biden stated that he believed officials should avoid resuming large classes and instead should “smaller classes, more ventilation, making sure that everybody has masks and is socially distanced.”
It’s a step in the right direction of showing teachers how important they are to us amidst a discussion about respect for teachers on Reddit.
Check the replies below.
“I went to a small charter school for middle school. Our English/literature teacher was brand new to teaching, if I remember correctly she was only 22 which seemed old at the time. She always did her best to be so cheerful and make learning fun. But the thing that truly solidified her spot as my favorite teacher was that for every student’s birthday she would give you a personalized mini notebook. It was just a simple small composition notebook but she had filled the first couple pages telling me how much she loved having me as a student, how far she knew I would go, and other affirmations. It seems small but as a 13 year old who had a crappy home life it made all the difference in how I acted the rest of the year.”-Voiceisaweapon
“When I was in the 1st grade my mother gave me one of MANY really awful haircuts. The first day back at school afterward the kids picked on me horribly. So much that I ran out and hid. The principal found me and we went back to the classroom and he asked me to wait outside for a minute while he talked to the class. He then walked me to his office and bought me a Coke. The next day – first thing in the morning – we had an assembly with the entire school and he walked up on stage with his head shaved completely bald and talked about bullying and the like. Some twenty years down the road he had retired and I ran into him at the local college. SHook his hand and said, “You probably don’t remember me, but,”
“yes I do,” he interrupted and said my name and the event. The man was and is a hero in my eyes.” – hopgeek
“I had a teacher in elementary school who was prone to outbursts. He had a short fuse, at least compared to every other adult I knew at the time. For instance, when several of us in class weren’t listening he’d throw a piece of chalk against the wall to get our attention.
Honestly, we just thought he was crazy.
A year or maybe two years later, the school had a talent show. Like a big one, in the gym, in front of everyone. One my classmates was really into music and wanted to play a drum solo. Our teacher had mentioned off-hand that he used to be in a band and played drums, so my classmate asked him (sort of dared, like kids often do with adults) to play a solo in front of the school
And he did. He fucking rocked it.
But that’s not what made me respect him. Turns out the band he played for was a very successful, and at the time quite popular rock band. He left just before they became popular, because he wanted to be a teacher. He chose teaching kids over the chance at fame and fortune, and didn’t regret it.
Edit: Decided to look him up and he’s still a teacher, and doing very well. Made me smile.”- dasoberirishman
“I had a physical education teacher who organised basketball, volleyball, handball and football tournaments, organised ‘olympic games’ for the local kids and taught us dancing on weekends. On his own. Just for us kids, because we lived in a remote place without many activities and things going on. He was more than a simple teacher.”- dasoberirishman
“When I was a kid we had to purchase these red punch cards to get lunch at school. Unfortunately we didn’t have that much money so there were times where my punch card would run out and I wasn’t able to eat for a while until we got enough money to repurchase another one (why nobody in my family applied for assistance was beyond me). I had one teacher who noticed I wasn’t eating every day and she would bring an extra sandwich and offer it to me whenever she saw that. I really didn’t understand how kind that was when I was a kid but obviously as an adult That was such an amazing gesture of kindness.”- sk8erguysk8er
“Not take my shit. I was a pretty decent writer in school; able to pop stuff out pretty quickly that was superficial but sounded good. The first time I had a teacher hand my work back pointing out that I managed to compellingly fail to say anything was sort of a slap in the face that I didn’t realize I needed.” –AvogadrosMoleSauce
“This will probably get lost, but I want to shout out this teacher of mine. She was our AP English Language teacher for our senior year of high school. On one of the first days in her class, she explained how she went from being a kindergarten teacher to a high school senior teacher.
She always saw off her cute and happy kindergarten kids, but as they grew up and they came back to visit her, a lot of them came to her troubled and dissatisfied with their lives. It made her real emotional about how people had treated these kids she loved so much, how she couldn’t afford to see kids so disconnected with life, and how she didn’t want them to suffer as they headed out towards college and their adult lives.
So she changed curriculums and started teaching seniors. If I remember right, it always came down to sending her kids off with a smile, prepping them for the real world. I respect the hell out of her and she’ll always be one of my favorites. Truly like a mother to all her students.” –NuluProton
“I had a professor once state that she doesn’t believe in trick questions. Students trick themselves up enough without the professor helping that along. She never did put trick questions.” –Nicholi417
“Junior year of high school, English class. We were discussing a story we had read. One student (let’s call him Carl,) made a point. The teacher was dismissive and basically said Carl was wrong.
The next day, after we took our seats the teacher said, “Before we begin, I was thinking about what Carl said yesterday. I was wrong to dismiss it so quickly. Let’s take a look at that again.” He then went on to repeat Carl’s point and initiate a conversation with the entire class. After the conversation, it became apparent Carl’s point was indeed off base, but I was impressed the teacher publicly owned his mistake and went down the path he should have.”- Andreas_NYC
“It was a professor, but she said she wasn’t going to have a textbook for the class. Basically, she didn’t respect the textbook representatives trying to take the pharma approach to force kids to buy an $170 access code.
Instant respect. You just had to show up to the lectures and she’d teach you what you needed to know.” –enchiladacheese
“A math teacher went to the hospital several times to visit a student who had been seriously injured in an accident.
The teacher offered companionship, free tutoring, and genuine encouragement.” –Back2Bach
“Told us a joke about his name (before we could) and allowed us to eat during his classes “because kids your age can’t help being hungry all the time”, as long as we did it quietly. Great guy. His whole attitude made all of us actually pay attention and do our best.” –Mom_is_watching
“math teacher : “I don’t care if you have good grades or bad grades, if you work hard, I will work harder to make you pass”.
“I had a sociology professor who gave us a Do Not Fail Checklist. Complete and you were guaranteed to pass. I also had a high school Chem teacher who bet us all $100 that if we passed his class we would pass our first college chem class. He was just really awesome all around- he told stories about travelling the world over breaks, got absurdly off topic to teach us random stuff, had a physics lab where we got to throw eggs at him, and occassionally we had a class where absolutely nothing got done because we were having a discussion. He used to give out quarters for correcting him, or for anything done really well. He put up posters about his trips and gave us extra credit quizes about them because he said being observant was really important in chemistry. Actually there were a few really weird activities in that class- I will never forget the time he ate chalk to prove to us that it was the same stuff as in milk. He was brilliant, hilarious, and just a really incredible human being.” –HylianEngineer
“I had a similar teacher. He would let us be who we were, listen to our ipod in class, and encouraged us to think outside “the class”.
I gained respect for him when he saw some kids going to skip and he called them into his class. Told them “if you’re gonna skip class than come to my class and do whatever you want in the back. Rather have you inside the school than outside”
Everyone loved that teacher while the other teachers couldn’t stand him. He had everyone’s respect.” –Raw1213
“I remember my 5th grade teacher had every student circle one book from the Scholastic book fair flyer. When the day came for the fair if you didn’t go to the library to purchase that book for yourself, she would buy it with her own money to make sure every student got to take a book home. I wouldn’t have had any books of my own if it weren’t for her.”- banhbohap
“Treated kids with autism + aspergers like actual human beings.
In my school I was in a special needs unit for kids with aspergers and autism called the CDU (communication disorder unit). The kids in there ranged from having mild aspergers to full on severe autism, and as such most teachers treated everyone from there like they had severe mental health problems just because they were labelled as having autism or aspergers even if it was very mild. But there was one support teacher in the cdu who was genuinely just a nice dude, whether he was talking to kids who had severe autism or just some mild social anxiety he wouldn’t talk extra slowly or call you “bud” or “pal” at the end of a sentence, he would talk to everyone like they were real human beings. It might seem like a small thing but when that’s how pretty much all teachers talked to you and treated you in every class it was very refreshing to talk to someone who would talk to you based on who you were as a person rather than treating someone differently for being labelled as autistic.” –mild_salsa_dip
“Thankfully this program didn’t exist at my school, Aspies had 504’s and more severe cases had IEP’s and certain classes were done by special teachers or with an extra teacher. Nobody was made to feel stupid or less than other students. That teacher is the kind that all nuerodivergent students love.”- TheCrazyBlacksmith
“English teacher in high school asked where my homework was. Responded “I forgot to do it” and he said to the rest of the class “Why can’t you guys be like Scratch_That_? He doesn’t come up with some excuse he just tells me he didn’t do it.” –Scratch_That_
“Instead of shouting at my loud class for not shutting up before the lesson began, my history teacher decided to quietly tell the story of a pink elephant that wanted to be an astronaut. After a few seconds, people started to shut up and listen about the pink elephant. When everyone was quiet and listening, he stopped mid-story.” –Cae1us
“I’m epileptic and had a large set of seizures not long before finals in high school chemistry. My seizures tend to mess with my memory, and those multiple seizures had devastated my memory of everything I’d learned in class that semester. I was doing reasonably well in class but absolutely bombed the test. After the failed test I ended up just shy of passing the class and he decided to give me a bonus question that passed me. I didn’t expect that, but the empathy was nice to see from a teacher. Even still, the whole situation sucked.
My math teacher told me I should have studied better. He then offered for me to retake the test which seems reasonable enough but there was no point as it was just all gone.
I’ve only had one since that was worse than that, but fortunately I’ve got an understanding employer. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve got a union rep as well…” –Early_or_Latte
“One of my high school math teachers had a policy that you could retake any test as many times as you needed to. No penalties. And she would help tutor you during any study hall or before or after school or during lunch.
Must’ve been a huge pain in the ass time wise to write new tests and tutor and grade. But her stance was that she was there to teach. And if you didn’t grasp it enough for the test, you didn’t gain anything by failing and moving on. But if you cared and wanted to learn how to do it, then she was responsible to support you the entire way there.
Edit: also now remembering that she spearheaded this thing around prom or dances where she and the other teachers would pool together some money and she would tell us that if any of us couldn’t afford the tickets or an outfit for them then to see her or drop a note on her desk or call her and she would make sure you got to go. And now having a better grasp on just how shittily we pay teachers – just an incredible person.” –PhiloPhocion
“Had an extremely zany teacher who taught Psychology, and had the last name Ward. Psycho personality (in the best way possible) to fit her name and job. Never met someone who fit their name and job description so well. (Worse, she taught driver’s ed too, on the side.)
She was the type whose zany personality was a big plus; most of her kids loved her, but if you effed around in her class, she’d eject you from it, with extreme prejudice.
She still teaches, and she teaches very well.
As an aside, there was also this middle-aged woman who was basically a hall monitor and filled in any other position she could think of, as well as handing out dententions or suspensions if she caught you effing around instead of being where you were supposed to be. Small lady, absolutely no-nonsense and tough as nails. She wouldn’t take shit from you, but also incredibly fair overall.
I realized she knew when to bend. My older two siblings hated her because she always caught them skipping class, smoking, or worse. I got along with her very well and never caused her any trouble. I asked her once about my little brother, and she said he was a good kid and while she’d had to give him detention a few times, she was also proud of him because when he got into a fight, he did it for the right reasons. My little bro’s a very tall, hulking guy and never hesitated to defend someone from a bully. It got him a few detentions for fighting but apparently she made it clear she was proud of him for standing up for others nonetheless.
I repeated this later to my brother, and he said she was a very good woman, very fair, and that he’d liked her for that fairness, and her sheer guts.”-MidorBird