When Everyone Turned Aside, DACA Student Turned to Broward College
While awaiting a change to his undocumented immigration status, Christian Del Valle’s college plans remained in limbo. All that was given was the dark basement storage unit that he, his mother, and younger sister and brother returned to each night for sleep. Two weeks after graduating from high school, Christian Del Valle was out on the streets.
“That summer was the hardest,” said Del Valle, the proud product of a Broward College program that offers scholarships to motivated students who don’t know the meaning of quitting. “School would later become my escape. It was the only thing I had.”
Fighting for a Chance at the American Dream
Born in Guatemala, Del Valle was living in Florida with his mother and father by the time he was 11 months old. Under those circumstances, Del Valle could not gain U.S. citizenship in the same way his younger brother and sister did, as they were born on American soil. He was “an issue” that only time and DACA status could remedy.
In the meantime, Dell Valle cleaned houses and washed cars. He wanted to dofor his mother and siblings what his father, who abandoned the family years earlier, never did.
“If I couldn’t go to school, maybe my brother and sister could,” said Dell Valle.“I wanted them to succeed.”
DACA and Broward College Offer Hope
Their prospects got a little brighter when Del Valle was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA. This status not only protected him from being deported, but also gave him access to work permits,his first legal job at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, and a fighter’s chance at higher education.
Faced with the daunting reality that he could never afford the cost of tuition, a co-worker told him about the Get Real! program at Broward College, which provides financial assistance to students with challenging situations. Del Valle figured his plight was formidable enough.
“I had no other place to turn,” said Del Valle. “Even people I thought were family had pushed us aside. For the first time, someone cared.”
The Get Real! program provided the footing for Del Valle to launch his college ambitions and take advantage of all he ever wanted: a chance. And he hasn’t looked back since.
“I am grateful for the situation I endured,” said Del Valle, who graduates this spring (May 2019) with an associate degree. “If I live with regrets, I’m not living.”
Del Valle said Get Real! taught him to trust people and ask for help, and his life has gotten better, not easier. The family found a place to live in Cypress Creek, and he and his siblings continue to work and go to school. At times, Del Valle is both mentally and physically drained, but he persists. He wants to be the first person in his family to graduate from college.
“I’ve had so many reasons to give up, but I didn’t,” he said. “If I can get through homelessness, I can get through anything.”
In the future, Del Valle plans to continue his education, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. He wants to be the lifeboat for others to reach out to in the same way that Broward College rescued him.