Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League

Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he came here legally with his family. Together they left Santo Domingo behind, but when their visas lapsed, Dan-el's courageous mother was determined to make a better life for her bright sons. While Dan-el was only in grade school, the family joined the ranks of the city's homeless. Dan-el, his mother, and brother lived in a downtown shelter where Dan-el's only refuge was the meager library. After a volunteer helped Dan-el get accepted on scholarship to Collegiate, the oldest private school in the country, Dan-el navigated the rough streets of East Harlem and the ultra-elite halls of a Manhattan private school, where he soon rose to the top of his class. From Collegiate, Dan-el went to Princeton, making a momentous decision to come out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he gave the salutatorian's traditional address in Latin at his commencement. Winner of the YALSA Alex Award.

Age Level: 14-16