SIUC's first-ever scholarship for DACA students - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

SIUC's first-ever scholarship for DACA students

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A Southern Illinois University Carbondale Administrator recently started the school's first-ever scholarship just for DACA students. 

Debra Sarvela, Director for the Center for Environmental Health & Safety, went to a screening of the student-made film "I, Too, Dream American" at her church in February. 

In the film, student Giovanni Galindo and Oneida Vargas discuss their family's journey to the United States and the challenges they face being a part of the DACA program such as not receiving federal aid for college. 

Sarvela was inspired by the film and the panel discussion that followed it, "These students are working hard and their doing amazing things, but it didn’t really hit home until she said that there's no help for them." 

Sarvela then decided to create the DACA Student Assistance Award through the school's Financial Aid Office. She saved a thousand dollars by cutting back on Starbucks and set the scholarship's requirements to be a DACA student with a B average. 

However, Sarvela says it was all worth it when she found out Galindo was the scholarship's first recipient, "I thought it was really special. It came full circle." 

Giovanni Galindo is a senior studying cinema and photography. "I'm really interested in writing for Hollywood. Eventually, I plan on going to grad school so I can teach creative writing," he says. 

When Galindo was six years old, his family moved from Mexico City to Peoria, where relatives had already settled. During his senior year of high school, Galindo realized that he would not be able to apply for financial aid. 

"It was sad in a way. Senior year in high school working on the FAFSA application which is really kinda complicated in itself, " Galindo explains. "Then to find out when I tried to submit it, that because of my undocumented status, I can’t receive any financial aid." 

Galindo, relying on parents to pay for his education, then went to Illinois Central College before transferring to SIU, "It was the least expensive film school that I could attend in Illinois." 

Galindo is thankful for the help, which will go toward tuition, but thinks the movie and the scholarship has had some other priceless affects. 

 "It's awesome that this movie has educated people and I guess in a way inspired people to be more supportive," he says. "Not just financially but intellectual support. Being here for people (DACA students) like me." 

Sarvela says friends and others have reached out to her in recent days wanting to donate money to the DACA Student Assistance Award. Those interested, can contact the school's Financial Aid office here

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