Dale Ditto (DJ) decided in junior high that he wanted a Ph.D. At the time, college did not seem likely because of how terrible things were going at home. He would escape his home environment by focusing on school. In fact, DJ participated in a sport every season and got involved with things he knew was good for him. While at Fresno High School he participated in drama, debate, SAB (Student Advisory Board) and was the Historian for ASB (Associate Student Body).
In 2011, during his sophomore year of high school, DJ and his sister were removed from their home by Child Protective Services. He and his sister were placed briefly in a foster home for a few months, and for a year a mentor was arranged for. On New Year’s Eve of 2012, they were placed in the Valley Teen Ranch foster home of Randy and Raeann Tyler. DJ describes the Tylers as the most loving, supportive family.
After high school, DJ applied to Fresno State and was accepted into the Renaissance Scholars Program which serves students attending Fresno State who experienced foster care or unaccompanied youth. DJ was determined not to be like his biological family who was uneducated and troubled. The path was not always easy, and at times he felt alone. He knew that he had the Tylers (whom he refers to as Mom and Dad) and siblings, but its not the same family support as others had.
DJ just kept one foot in front of the other. He served as the Program Student Coordinator for the Renaissance Scholars Program for two years and completed a University Admissions and Recruitment Internship. In May of 2019, DJ will walk across the stage and receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. He became a McNair scholar in 2018 which helps first generational college students and underrepresented populations with higher education. He states that there was not one person that was integral in helping him succeed but many support people throughout his life who made a difference.
This is not the end of DJ’s educational journey. He has recently been accepted into the Advanced Standing Master’s Program in Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He will be working as a research assistant for Dr. Mark Courtney. DJ wants to support special populations at the university level and help them be successful. After doing two years of post-masters work to gain experience, he plans to obtain his Ph.D. and become a professor, and one day a University President.