WASCO, Calif. — Running day in and day out. Wasco High senior Valeria Valdez is always chasing the American dream.
“I didn’t even think I was going to go to college in the first place," said Valdez. "I didn’t think such opportunity [existed]. I was in such a down position from all of this DACA stuff and it was kind of stressing me out and I didn’t think there was really a way out of it."
Born in Mexico, Valdez moved to the United States when she was one and is under the immigration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals known as DACA.
This made is very difficult for her to apply for colleges, jobs and financial aid.
“There was certain opportunities that I wasn’t allowed to take, but there’s definitely a lot of opportunities for everyone, you just have to go and research and work really hard for it," said Valdez.
Valdez also says she was scared to file and share any information.
"I was scared to apply because I didn’t know how it was going to affect me," said Valdez. "Was it going to be positive or negative, but I took the chance."
Although Valdez and her coach went through many hurdles it never deterred them.
"I knew that Valeria was capable of a full ride scholarship because she’s that talented," said head coach Omar Garcia. "So, I knew that there wasn’t any issues… other than she was DACA."
With her coach's help and Valdez' persistence, she landed a scholarship to Notre Dame de Namur for her academics and athletics.
“Yes, you don’t have a green card, but we’re all entitled to a dream and have success," said Garcia.
“I'm really, really proud of myself," said Valdez. "I didn’t think I was going to get this far. It’s surprising to me. It’s kind of like a dream. But, it’s all real. I have to pinch myself."
Valdez says she hopes her story will inspire others just like her to go for their dreams, no matter how scary it may be. She will start college this fall.