Valeria Delgado '24, Rep. Lou Correa and Director for Hispanic/Latinx Achievement Gabriela Castaneda.
Valeria Delgado '24, Rep. Lou Correa and Chapman University Director for Hispanic/Latinx Achievement Gabriela Castaneda in Washington, D.C.

DACA Recipient Represents Community at Biden’s State of the Union Valeria Delgado '24 attended as a guest of Rep. Lou Correa.

Valeria Delgado ’24 went from rubbing shoulders with members of Congress to catching up on her coursework in the span of a few days.

Valeria Delgado ’24 went from rubbing shoulders with members of Congress to catching up on her coursework in the span of a few days.

“Last Thursday I was listening to the president and today I’m studying for my genetics test,” Delgado said on March 11, the day after returning from the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.

Valeria Delgado '24 and Rep. Lou Correa
Valeria Delgado ’24 and Rep. Lou Correa give an interview.

Delgado, a health sciences major and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, attended with Rep. Lou Correa, whose district includes Orange, Anaheim, Fullerton, Santa Ana and Stanton. She hopes her story encourages more people to support DACA.

“Applying for and receiving higher education as a DACA recipient was very different and as a first-generation student, it’s validation that what I’ve done and the effort I’ve put in is worth it,” she said.

Representing DACA students was “an amazing opportunity and I received overwhelming support and love everyone was so excited for me,” she said.

In addition to attending the SOTU, Delgado shadowed Correa in meetings and took part in media interviews in English and Spanish. She also took a tour of the Capitol and visited the floor of the House of Representatives. But seeing congressional members and the president in person stood out as a “pinch me moment” for Delgado. 

“It was such a surreal experience being at the State of the Union in person versus watching it on TV,” she said. “Being there in the same room as the president wow.” 

She appreciated that President Joe Biden mentioned DACA in the speech.

“He intentionally added that and brought so much awareness and brought back the importance of the issue,” she said, adding that she hopes the speech motivates people to talk about the program and push for progress. DACA allows young adults lacking permanent status who came to the United States as children to work and study in the country. The program was declared illegal by a federal judge in September and has not been taken up by Congress since then.

Valeria Delgado '24 with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos.
Valeria Delgado ’24 with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos.

Delgado’s parents were excited for her, even more so because of their own challenges, Delgado said. Those challenges were an inspiration for Delgado’s plan to become a physician assistant. 

“My parents are Spanish speaking and seeing how their health care process works, I want to be able to fill in that gap and help the community overall,” said Delgado, who grew up in Orange County and whose family is from the western Mexican state of Nayarit.

After visiting D.C., she saw parallels between government and health care.

“There’s a lot happening behind the scenes to keep the country running,” she said.

Her time in D.C. only furthered her passion for improving health care for the underprivileged and being an advocate for underserved communities. 

Delgado works as a medical scribe at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and is involved with the student first aid team and the Red Cross. 

“My neighborhood is predominantly Latino and I see a lot of healthcare disparities, and just working at the hospital showed me there’s gaps I want to fill,” she said. “I’m still so passionate about health care and being a patient advocate … I think that’s where I can get the best results for my community.”

There’s gaps to fill as both a provider and a Spanish speaker. Just 7% of physician assistants nationwide are Latino.

To help combat that disparity, Delgado plans to apply to Chapman’s PA program.

“I have witnessed Valeria’s unwavering dedication to her studies and community service,” said Gabriela Castaneda, Chapman’s director for Hispanic and Latinx achievement and assistant vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Castaneda has known Delgado for two years and recommended her to Correa’s office.

“As an active student who maintains a strong academic record, Valeria is a shining example of the incredible potential and contributions of DACA recipients,” she said.

Delgado hopes her story helps humanize DACA recipients.

“It affects real people like me … I’m paying my taxes, trying to do my best to contribute to the community, trying to choose a field that helps others,” she said.

Reg Chhen Stewart, Chapman’s vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, said Delgado represents “the real promise of DACA.”

“There are thousands of intelligent, highly motivated young people who will make valuable contributions to our country when given the opportunity,” he said. “They are the future contributors to a more perfect union.”

Sharing is caring!

Joy Juedes

Your Header Sidebar area is currently empty. Hurry up and add some widgets.