Marquette helps DACA students; supporting 'Dreamers' with gala

MILWAUKEE - Marquette University is going the extra mile to help DACA students achieve higher education.

DACA protects young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were children from deportation.

For students like Victor Mateos, staying on top of school has been far from easy.

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"I would say the biggest challenge for me [...] is definitely going to be the tuition part of it," Mateos said. "I don't qualify for financial aid."

<div>Victor Mateos</div>
Victor Mateos

He's a "Dreamer" student in his junior year at Marquette. He is balancing two jobs.

It’s a work ethic he has nurtured all to pursue a brighter future.

Now, with help from Marquette, Mateos is a step closer to becoming the first in his family to graduate from college.

Jacqueline Black is the director of the school's Hispanic Initiatives and Diversity and Inclusion Educational Programming.

<div>Jacqueline Black</div>
Jacqueline Black

"We are doing all that we can to make sure those students are being taken care of in a lot of different ways," Black said.

Her focus is providing opportunities for all students.

"One of things we do for students that apply to Marquette and don't have a social security number is that we provide them with an opportunity to fill out a net price calculator, then we are  able to provide financial assistance and scholarships," she said.

The assistance is crucial for DACA and undocumented students.

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"We are seeing fewer students that have access to DACA, as the DACA program has been phased out systematically," Black said. "So, if they had DACA in 2017, when it started to be phased out, they can continue to re-up their work authorization and, if they were not able to get it by 2017, then we don't have students who have access to it."

The university hosts the annual Dreamers Gala to collect funds to continue to help pave the way for students like Mateos.

"It's opened up a lot of doorways and it's brought up a lot of opportunities that I would've never thought about doing had I not come here," he said.

The ninth annual gala will take place Tuesday, March 19.