Desert Sun: This Class of 2024 grad found redirection and a family at College of the Desert

By Jennifer Cortez, May 20, 2024

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As a child in Lipa City, Batangas in the Philippines, Derick Talay dreamed of having a “complete family.” Raised by a single mother who had to work in Singapore to provide for the family’s basic needs, Talay stayed in the Philippines with his grandmother.

He remembers a school assignment he didn’t quite understand, which required bringing a family picture to class. “I just drew a stick figure family,” he said. “We had to present … and one of my classmates had an actual photo of their complete family. To this day, it still makes me emotional because that was my wish.”

Talay was 15 when he and his family — now including his stepdad — immigrated to the United States. He began attending La Quinta High School in January 2020, just a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to pivot to emergency remote learning. Adapting was more challenging than he had expected.

The following school year, as a junior, he enrolled in a combination of challenging courses, including honors, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. His first rigorous course was AP U.S. History, which he took remotely. “I’m new to the U.S. with zero background on American knowledge and because it’s AP, everything’s fast-paced. My teacher would remind us that we learned this or that in middle school. I was like, ‘Sure,’” he said with a laugh.

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