Graduates of San Diego State University DACA Recipients – NBC 7 San Diego
A San Diego County resident and DACA recipient who worked multiple jobs to pay for his college education achieved some of his dreams on Tuesday when he graduated from San Diego State University.
Javier Diego Jacinto, 22 – proudly sporting a Mexican flag – walked across the stage at Petco Park during the SDSU opening ceremony as his family cheered from the stands.
The first of seven SDSU opening ceremonies began today at Petco Park – a very special celebration that was once threatened by the pandemic. NBC 7’s Audra Stafford has more on the momentous event.
It was a great moment.
With this walk through the stage, Jacinto has become the first member of his family to graduate from college – a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly.
“It is my responsibility to set an example for my parents, my brothers,” he told Telemundo 20 in an interview a day before his graduation. “I want them to realize that they too can aspire to do something they love.”
Jacinto – who is a recipient of the government’s Deferred Action Child Arrivals program for undocumented students – came to the United States with his parents at age 6 from Cuarnavaca in the state of or from Morelos in Mexico.
“They left their lives elsewhere so that I could aspire to do bigger things – things they couldn’t do,” he explained.
Today Jacinto is the oldest of five children.
One of his brothers, Emmanuel, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, and died on September 7, 2019.
“It was a really tough journey – with many challenges and obstacles that I had to face growing up,” he explained.
Jacinto told Telemundo 20 and NBC 7 that growing up in the United States without papers is difficult. When he moved to the United States with his parents, he remembers feeling lonely and insecure.
There was the language barrier.
The new city, the new school.
And he said growing up with friends who didn’t share his struggles or his experience was also difficult.
“I was filled with doubt,” Jacinto recalls. “I felt like I didn’t belong to this country.”
Throughout his childhood, Jacinto said he felt stuck “in limbo”.
Growing up in America, he said he sometimes found it difficult to identify with his Mexican culture. But neither could he fully identify as an American.
Yet the United States, he said, has always been home.
“All my life – all I know, the food, the celebrations, the birthdays – they’re all here, all great memories, they’re all here in the United States,” Jacinto said.
He said being a DACA beneficiary – and “turning out to be undocumented” to his friends and mentors – has long been a source of concern for him. He has worried over the years that people think less of him because he is undocumented.
So when he got to finish school – and try on that cap and dress in front of his family this week – the feelings were deep.
Jacinto’s parents, Javier Diego Jacinto Sr. and Elda Jacinto, told Telemundo 20 that they are more than proud of their graduate.
They said he was a shining example for his younger siblings – including his new baby sister, 3-month-old Emma, who was another reason – after Emmanuel’s death – to continue. to advance.
Jacinto told Telemundo 20 that he was helped on graduation day by counselors, teachers and mentors and the SDSU Undocumented Resource Center, a group dedicated to helping undocumented students succeed. As a member of the center, Jacinto also helps other students in situations similar to him.
Relying on his parents’ hard work ethic, Jacinto said he has worked multiple jobs over the past few years to pay for his tuition. He was a team leader in a fast food restaurant and a concierge. He helped his father with landscaping concerts and helped his mother clean the houses.
“He was 100% dedicated to his studies and his job – work, home, school, study,” said Elda Jacinto.
All it took to make the dream come true.
Jacinto graduated from SDSO with a Diploma in Liberal Studies and Education. Then, he will join the SDSU’s bilingual diploma program in the fall.
After that, the rest of her dream is to become an elementary school teacher.
He said he wanted to set an example for other young students like him and give them the love, care and support he received throughout his life.
“I want them to aspire to dream big – I ‘challenge them twice to dream big’ – as a teacher once told me,” Jacinto said with a smile. “I challenge you to dream big, I challenge you to aspire to make your dreams come true, no matter what obstacles or circumstances you face. I believe in you; you have a whole community – your family, your teachers – who believe in you. “
To watch Jacinto’s full story on Telemundo 20, click here.