The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Rising Scholarship Program Aims to Help Undocumented Students Pursue Higher Education

Courtesy of DVC website.

An influx of new students in the California Dream Act Service Incentive Grant (DSIG) program is translating into more undocumented students at Diablo Valley College earning scholarships by volunteering on campus. Meanwhile, other programs such as the Immigration Institute of the Bay Area are providing additional opportunities for immigrant students here and across the California Community College system.

California Dream Act Service Incentive Grant

The recent growth of the DSIG program means more undocumented students will be able to work on campus. With many more opportunities for students not involved yet, it allows those with low income the opportunity to gain scholarships for their education. 

Specifically, the program allows all undocumented students at DVC to volunteer 150 hours on campus and get a $2,250 scholarship at the end of the semester.

José de Jesús Ochoa Tolento, a second-year DVC student, said he has been directly impacted by the DSIG program.

“It’s a great program,” he said, and “a step in the right direction.” 

After experiencing abuse at his last job — which he said included being paid below minimum wage, not being able to take breaks, and having to endure racist comments from his employer — Ochoa was able to leave his job and instead get involved in the DSIG program while enrolling in school full-time.

He currently works at the Student Union building seven hours a week, where he said he is treated well and feels like his rights are respected. 

“I’ve completed it three times so far,” he said, “and while it’s a volunteer stipend program, it functions more like a job or internship.” Ochoa said the program has provided a huge help for him to pay for school and stay focused on his studies and his future.

“I started working in my sophomore year of high school and, as you can imagine, having to work on top of pursuing education can be quite difficult,” Ochoa added. “Having to spend your days grinding at school just to spend your weekends working adds an extra burden to the table, and thanks to this program that’s no longer the case.”

However, according to Ochoa, a couple of aspects of DSIG could be reworked in order to better help students in the program.

For example, he said, “hiring has taken up to four weeks in some cases, and since we have to complete 150 hours per semester, starting much later means having to work more hours a week to still meet the 150-hour [requirement at the deadline], which has led to some students having to drop the program.” 

Ochoa added that since the program is based on scholarships, “students in the program have come across [needing consistent income], so they’re still working other jobs and only doing this on the side.” 

Free immigration legal services

Another resource DVC offers to their undocumented students is the Immigration Institute of the Bay Area, or IIBA, provides free immigration legal services to DVC and other community colleges in the region. Which includes humanitarian services, general consultations and covering the costs associated with DACA and citizenship applications.

To access IIBA services, students can visit, and are eligible for a free 45-minute consultation.

IIBA also provides new paid internships to students at DVC and other local community colleges, where interns’ task is to increase student outreach and awareness through tabling, classroom presentations, creating flyers and running the institute’s social media pages.

The program and its interns also visit various high schools with high populations of Latino students to educate them on the services that are available to them while pursuing higher education.

The internship involved with IIBA is open to undocumented students, and provides four payments of $1,250, issued twice per semester, totaling $5,000 for the year.

Luis Ramirez, an IIBA attorney, is the legal representative assigned to DVC, LMC, and CCC, and has been working with students to provide them with immigration legal consultations at no cost to them, staff or faculty. Ramirez also helps organize outreach events, clinics and workshops tackling various immigration topics such as knowing your rights, citizenship, victims of crime and immigration, and family immigration.

When asked about the benefit from the annual legal fellowship, Ramirez said “[It] exposes students to the world of immigration law and allows them to develop their engagement and outreach skills.”

In regards to seeking out services, Ramirez is available to meet on the DVC campus on Wednesdays. Students can book an appointment via Once booked, they can go to the PUMA center to check in.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Soren Stanton, Staff Writer

Comments (0)

By commenting, you give The Inquirer permission to quote, reprint or edit your words. Comments should be brief, have a positive or constructive tone, and stay on topic. If the commenter wants to bring something to The Inquirer’s attention, it should be relevant to the DVC community. Posts can politely disagree with The Inquirer or other commenters. Comments should not use abusive, threatening, offensive or vulgar language. They should not be personal attacks or celebrations of other people’s tragedies. They should not overtly or covertly contain commercial advertising. And they should not disrupt the forum. Editors may warn commenters or delete comments that violate this policy. Repeated violations may lead to a commenter being blocked. Public comments should not be anonymous or come from obviously fictitious accounts. To privately or anonymously bring something to the editors’ attention, contact them.
All The Inquirer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.