The Dennis De La Rosa Scholarship was created in loving memory of Dennis De La Rosa. Dennis always had a passion for education. He graduated from Jones College Prep in the Spring of 2008 and continued his education at Moraine Valley Community College. After two years at Moraine Valley, Dennis completed his bachelors degree from University of Illinois at Chicago, and graduated on May 5, 2012. Being an undocumented student, Dennis did not qualify for financial assistance, which forced him to find a job to pay for his education. Dennis was able to juggle school full-time and work, still managing to graduate with over a 3.4 GPA.

This scholarship is intended to assist undocumented youth from the CPS in reaching their dream of attending a four year college or university.The team is comprised of some of Dennis De La Rosa’s closest friends and family members. Following the loss of Dennis, they came together to ensure that his story carried on.

Dennis’ Story

At the age of eight, my parents made a drastic decision to move from Mexico to the United States. At this young age, I was unaware of the challenges I would have to face for being undocumented; however, by the time I was a high school senior it became evident. Financing for college is extremely difficult, especially if limited resources are available. As an undocumented student, I was not eligible for financial aid nor was I qualified for most scholarship opportunities. Consequently, I decided to start my college education at Moraine Valley Community College where tuition could be affordable for my family and I.

As a freshman, I tried out for the baseball team and immediately earned a starting spot on the team. I was fortunate enough to receive an athletic scholarship by spring semester that helped out my financial situation. As a sophomore, I continued to play and earned a full scholarship. Despite the time and commitment the baseball team required, I was committed to the opportunity of earning a college degree. At the end of my sophomore season, I was named on the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference All-Academic team as I finished my general education with a 3.6 GPA.

After Moraine Valley Community College, I transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Fall of 2010. At UIC, tuition was very expensive and unaffordable to my family and I, which meant I would need to start working. I was fortunate enough to find a job as a delivery biker for a local restaurant in downtown Chicago. I started working 30 hours of week at minimum wage but tips are what made UIC more affordable. I enrolled in a payment plan offered by UIC that would require monthly payments of over $1,200 dollars all year around. I clearly would not be able to afford $1,200 dollars a month, but I did my best to reach the mark every month. Most of the time, I was short a few hundred dollars but with the support of my family I was able to make the payments.

Being a full-time student and working close to a full-time job was very difficult my first semester. My whole life revolved around school and work and left me with no time for my friends and family. The effects could also be seen on my grades, as I received my first three C’s on my transcript. I was pretty upset the whole winter break and made a promise to myself that I would learn how to manage my time a lot better; and I did. I have since been able to balance work, school, and my social life without affecting my goal of earning a Bachelors degree in Accounting. After this four year journey, I sit here proud to say I will become the first person in my family to graduate from a four year university ironically on Cinco de Mayo 2012.