Meet Claudia Delgadillo: A Latina Giant Against All Odds

By Claudia Delgadillo

My name is Claudia Delgadillo, I was born in Mexico City and raised in the U.S. in the state of Illinois. It was when I was six that my parents told my brother and I that we were moving to the land of opportunities. Little did I know that the older I got, the tougher life would get.

For many years I was under the impression that going to a four-year university would be impossible. When I was a senior in high school I was offered a full tuition ride to the local community college in town, but the award was rescinded due to my immigration status in America that identified non-resident or non-citizens of the U.S. as ineligible to receive such award.

I did not allow this to deter me; instead I looked for alternative ways to pay for my tuition. I found opportunities in my community as a volunteer, that later rewarded me with small tuition assistance.

Being undocumented in America not only meant that I was not eligible for Financial Aid (FAFSA), but due to a lack of social security number I could not acquire a driver’s license or a job. All this changed during my second year in community college when President Obama blessed many Dreamers like me with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This not only meant that I could drive instead of walking and taking the bus to school everyday, but I would also be able to work and pay for my own college tuition. I got my first job at a restaurant and kept going to school until I could earn my Associate’s Degree.

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During this time I met my husband and after finishing my two years at the community college I moved to Georgia where my husband’s military post was located. In Georgia I struggled to find a University that I could afford. So I began searching scholarships online that could help me pay for tuition.

During the search I came across Dr Pepper’s annual tuition giveaway contest. I entered the contest by sending in a video telling Dr Pepper about my passion for law and politics. This video got me an opportunity to fly down to Texas and compete for $100, 000 in tuition. The contest consisted of throwing footballs into a ten-foot Dr Pepper can, in a time limit of 30 seconds. The contest was between me and another contestant. Once the throwing began I could not think of anything else but the football and the Dr Pepper Can. At the end of the 30 seconds I looked over at my opponents scoreboard and realized that she had made eight footballs in the can, and I had made nine. I walked out a winner of $100,000 in tuition! The excitement of knowing that I could afford to go back to college was incredible. Not only could I afford a bachelor’s degree but I would also reach my full potential and go to law school.

Today I live in Tennessee where I am attending Austin Peay State University, majoring in Political Science with a concentration in legal studies. This upcoming 2015-2016 school year will be my last as I will be ready to attend law school for the fall of 2016.

I learned that there will always be obstacles in the way that can keep anyone from reaching their full potential, if one lets it. It is up to the Dreamer to go as far as they want to. The only one who can keep you from pursuing your dreams is you.