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Motivated by family, persistent DelValle returns to CCRI to finish what he started

April 11, 2022

JDV

Jose DelValle will finally receive his college diploma from the Community College of Rhode Island this spring, ending a decade-long journey by crossing a commencement stage for the first time since kindergarten.

The 41-year-old Computer Studies major is living proof it’s never too late to finish what you’ve started.

A much-needed boost from CCRI’s COVID Finish Scholarship – which helps students like DelValle who have some college credits, but need assistance clearing the final hurdle – gave DelValle the motivation to finish his studies and earn that important degree.

An on-again, off-again student at CCRI since 2011, DelValle enrolled for the third and final time for the Spring 2022 semester and completed his remaining credits to earn his Associate Degree in Computer Studies with a concentration in Computer Programming.

“This is a dream come true for me,” said the Providence resident and father of two. “For years, I’ve wanted to go back and finish, but life always got in the way. A lot of people used to tell me I was crazy for trying. Now I tell others who aren’t sure, ‘Yes, you can do it. You can achieve your goals. You’ve just got to put your mind to it.’”

DelValle has worked tirelessly for the past two decades to provide for his family, including 19 years in a variety of roles at T.F. Green International Airport, but always dreamt of finishing his college degree to earn a more sustainable, high-paying job.

With nothing more than his diploma from Central High School, he’s successfully climbed the ladder at T.F. Green, starting as a dishwasher in 2003, working his way up to a ramp agent, and now overseeing the airport’s baggage claim systems as a Baggage Handling System Technician. But his dream is to be a manager, which is impossible without a college degree.  

He enrolled at CCRI in 2011 as a General Studies major. Since he didn’t own a car at the time, he rode the bus to get to and from campus, often making it back to the bus stop by the skin of his teeth to catch another ride to work after class. Whenever he had free time, whether on the bus or during a break at work, he’d pull out a textbook and catch up on his reading.

The daily grind proved too much to handle; DelValle lasted just two semesters after enrolling in 2011 and stopped out twice over the next five years, also reenrolling in the Fall of 2015 to begin pursuing his Computer Studies degree. But reality kept calling, and as DelValle continued taking on a heavier workload at T.F. Green, he had less time to concentrate on his studies.   

“I needed a break,” he said. “I was just overwhelmed.”

Once his daughters – now 21 and 22 – graduated high school, DelValle’s priorities shifted. The motivation to pursue a degree became less about proving others wrong and more about proving to his children, who’ve yet to attend college, that they, too, can continue their education and earn a career in the field of their choice.

After a six-year pause, DelValle enrolled again for the Spring 2022 semester. Weeks later, a postcard from CCRI announcing the COVID Finish Scholarship arrived in his mailbox – a sign, he said, to stay on track this time and finally finish his degree.

“I was still on the fence,” he admits, “but once I saw that postcard, I said to myself, ‘You know what? I’m going to do this.’

“CCRI has been an incredible experience. They have so many options, which allows you to pick and choose how to plan your day, whether you want to take day classes, night classes, or even weekend classes.”

Since he and his family moved often when he was younger – first living in Boston, then spending two years in Puerto Rico before settling in Providence – DelValle never had the chance to establish roots at any of the schools he attended. Even in high school, he wasn’t allowed to participate in commencement because he had to finish one final class that summer to earn his diploma.

Commencement 2022 will indeed be a “dream come true” as DelValle finally gets to don his cap and gown and cross the stage for the first time in more than three decades.

“I’m doing this for my family,” he said. “I want to show my daughters that education is important. Despite everything you go through in life, you can still do it. You can still get your education. And when you do, you’ll see how many doors open up for you in the real world.”

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