Skip to content

Dallas College Opened Doors for This Aspiring Attorney

Last updated on April 25, 2023

An office job.

That’s all Daisy Donjuan wanted. Seriously, she dreamed of being surrounded by paperwork and computers.

“I know it’s crazy, but that’s what I wanted,” Donjuan said, laughing.

After graduating from Duncanville High School in 2016, she immediately entered the workforce, becoming the manager of a retail store. It didn’t take her long to realize her preference for being in the back office rather than the front of the store.

So, she began applying for a number of office jobs.

“No one was hiring me,” she said. “I was like, ‘Man, what do I have to do to get a better job? I’ve got a high school diploma. Why don’t you want me?’”

That’s when Donjuan realized more education might be the solution. She was the first in her family to earn a high school diploma but, if she wanted to advance further, she needed more credentials. She always had an interest in the legal field and saw Dallas College had a paralegal program at its El Centro Campus.

Donjuan enrolled in 2021 and, fast forward to today, has become one of the stars of the school.

She’s taken advantage of a number of opportunities, including joining the Texas Community College Student Advisory Council. Being part of that council helped her get published in The Dallas Morning News last month, penning an op-ed supporting community colleges.

Donjuan was also awarded a scholarship through the Erin Tierney Kramp Program, a program that supports students based on their courage and perseverance in the face of adversity.

At the end of the day, Dallas College proved to be the perfect fit for Donjuan. She will graduate with her associate degree in May and, courtesy of the Kramp program, carries a full-tuition scholarship as she pursues a bachelor’s degree at Austin College. And her dreams of landing a coveted office job have evolved into becoming an attorney one day.

True to its mission, Dallas College continues to transform lives through higher education.

“Whenever I was working in retail for years, I always knew that I wanted to do more,” said Donjuan, who will share her story as the student graduation speaker during the ceremony on Thursday, May 11.

“Being here at Dallas College, I’ve seen that I have a passion for politics. Not necessarily to become a politician but working in an area where you can see it all go down. I’ve taken several trips to Austin with the Texas Community College Student Advisory Council, and a lot of people there are lawyers and know the law. I’m going with the flow, but the root of everything I want to do is law and fighting for what’s right.”

Pandemic Perspective

Looking back, Donjuan views the COVID-19 pandemic as a moment that ultimately changed her life for the better. At the time, though, it felt like rock bottom.

Donjuan was in the early stages of her pursuit for an office job, failing to land one. Then, the pandemic hit and forced the retail store she managed to close some days, which meant her paycheck wasn’t as good.

She also discovered her job wasn’t “essential.”

“I’m like, ‘I’m not essential. All I do is sell clothes,’” Donjuan said, shaking her head. “I’m not even at a grocery store. Grocery stores are essential, but ripped jeans? Everyone can survive without ripped jeans.”

Sitting at home amid the pandemic, Donjuan scoured the internet and discovered Dallas College’s paralegal program. As a woman of faith, she prayed on her decision, and everything lined up when she received a state grant to attend school.

At El Centro, she crossed paths with Dr. Brad Williams, who took her under his wing. She also connected with several faculty members who were genuinely interested in her success.

When Donjuan lost her financial aid and contemplated dropping out, she received the proper guidance and funding to stay in school by earning a Kramp scholarship.

“Dr. Williams and everyone at Dallas College has gone above and beyond,” Donjuan said. “Seeing the servant’s heart they have, it motivated me to keep going.”

Spreading the Message

Si, Se Puede.

That’s a popular phrase in Mexican households, Donjuan said, that means “it can be done.”

“We say it as Mexicans,” she said, “but we don’t truly believe it.”

Donjuan wants to change that, and believes her story is proof that, yes, it can be done. She is someone who worked in retail for five years before returning to school. Her parents weren’t overly supportive of her leaving a job in which she’d risen to manager to go back to school, either.

“It was scary. It wasn’t easy peasy,” Donjuan said. “It took putting your heart into it. And I was just tired of being in the same cycle.”

Donjuan has successfully broken that cycle as she has a promising future ahead. Along with her success in the classroom, she’s also gained real-world experience by landing a part-time job at Gandara & Gonzalez, a law firm run by Dallas College alum and State Rep. Jessica Gonzalez (House District 104).

Fortunately for Dallas College, Donjuan has become one of the college’s biggest advocates. Attending Dallas College has been one of the best decisions she’s made.

“All of these doors that have opened for me are because of Dallas College,” she said. “They literally put community in community college.”

This story and others like it can be found in the Student Newsletter. Check your Dallas College email to see the latest edition.

Published inStudent Success Story