My name is Salvador Delgado, and I am a South Side Chicago native. I currently attend Harold Washington College, part of the City Colleges of Chicago. I am in the process of transferring to a four-year institution to begin pursuing a bachelor’s degree. This past fall, I completed an applied associate degree in paralegal studies. My pursuit of obtaining a college degree has been challenging. It is extremely difficult to go to school while having to work part or full time to stay afloat financially. Thankfully, some financial burden is alleviated by programs such as the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant. MAP fills a critical gap in federal education funding that many students in Illinois absolutely need.
I hold many intersecting identities. I am a first-generation college student, Mexican-American, and part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Unfortunately, navigating higher education can be difficult because some institutions are unable or unwilling to support and empower individuals from marginalized communities. My MAP grant gave me the opportunity to access higher education. It supported me in affording housing, books, tuition, and other basic needs like living expenses. I had to navigate and support myself through college without any type of support from my family. This is the case for many students of color or students who identify as LGBTQIA+. The MAP grant can sometimes replace or fill the missing support that can help us succeed in our endeavors to complete a college degree.
It is crucial to invest in students because many times, brilliant, motivated, and hardworking individuals are often denied access to careers or employment because of the lack of a degree or certification. Investing in students diversifies our workforce and allows businesses and corporations to tap into vital perspectives and undiscovered talent. Unfortunately, for so many, this talent may never be fully realized, simply due to a lack of finances and resources. Investing in MAP is investing in students. Investing in students creates opportunity and ultimately improves our society as a whole. With adequate investment, students can give back to their communities and uplift others who may have similar experiences and struggles.
Legislators must expand MAP funding by supporting an additional $122million investment this year to help students afford college.
Students thrive when they have the backing of institutions and community; support us and watch us thrive.
Salvador Delgado was a member of the Young Invincibles Fall 2021 Young Advocates Program program. He is passionate about supporting students in need.