MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Area Technical College recently expanded its DACA Plus Scholarship program thanks to a $112,000 donation from two Milwaukee area businesses. 

Van Horn Latino, an automotive dealership, and El Rey, a family-owned and operated grocer, collaborated to make the generous donation to supplement students’ college expenses or a certificate. 

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a U.S. immigration policy that allows eligible immigrants into the country for a period without fear of deportation.

But those non-U.S. citizens are not eligible to receive financial aid. 

The expanded scholarship program is for new MATC students who are non-U.S. citizens and are not eligible for financial aid because of their DACA or undocumented status. 

MATC’s DACA Plus Scholarship offers $500 per semester for eligible students taking 6-8 credits, $750 for 9-11 credits and $1,000 for 12 or more credits. 

Many students, such as welding student Samuel Torres, are benefiting from this scholarship. 

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

After leaving his home in Mexico City at age seven and growing up in the United States, Torres said he was willing to do whatever he could to ensure a successful future here.  

Torres said his parents, especially his father, sacrificed a lot for their family. 

“They literally sacrificed their pension, his retirement, everything pretty much for his kids to take advantage of the American dream,” said Torres. 

He said learning how to weld has been a fun experience and something he sees himself doing long term. 

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

“I doubted myself forever, for the longest time, and didn’t think that I would be able to do this,” said Torres.

Antonio Diaz is the General Manager of Van Horn Latino of Milwaukee. Diaz said programs like these are providing important opportunities.

“The current education system doesn’t provide financial opportunities to this sector of our communities,” said Diaz. “With the DACA Scholarship, we are able to help them. It is important for everyone to have access to an education. That’s why the participation of the private sector is vital to help these students get the education they need and become more productive members of our community.”  

Torres said he’s thankful for these opportunities and will continue to work hard to make not only his parents proud but also himself.