Years ago he had a shaved head, long goatee and baggy clothes, but Dallin Steinmann is now clean cut and going to college. Many wouldn’t be able to guess that Steinmann used to look so different than the way he looks now.
His appearance is not the only thing that has changed over the years for Steinman. He has also become a student while in his mid 20s, which he never would have expected in the past.
“The way I was raised, I got into trouble as a kid,” Steinmann said. “I barely graduated high school.”
No one in Steinmann’s family went to college and he didn’t expect to, either, until a couple years ago he realized how much education impacts a person’s lifestyle and opportunities.
Steinmann remembers having an assembly at school that inspired him as a kid. The man who spoke at the assembly told the kids his story, and said, “One day you have to grow up”.
Steinman was impressed and wanted to be like this guy, helping and inspiring kids. Today he does just that.
As a member of USALO (Unidos Saldremos Adelante), Steinmann, along with other students, do tours of the university and speak to groups of young Hispanics. USALO has just started doing assemblies, as well. Steinmann is especially useful to the students he speaks to because he can relate to them.
“We let them know what opportunities are available to them,” Steinmann said. “I don’t think a lot of them even think about going to college.”
Steinmann’s is a message of hope. He tells the kids that if they want to go to college there is a way to do it, and even if a student is undocumented, it is not too far out of reach. Steinman says the students he talks to often feel like they have already messed their life up.
“I tell them, ‘You’re only 17, you have a lot of life left,’” Steinmann said. “I mean, hardly any of them have kids.”
According to Steinmann, he has worked almost every blue-collar job you can think of, and “they all suck.” This is the reason why he is getting an education, but another big influence is his kids. Steinmann has two kids, ages six and four.
“I want to be able to see them every night,” Steinmann said.
Steinmann recalls working 70-80 hour weeks at a body shop and wanting a better situation. Now, he is a student and a dad, which can also be a challenge.
“It’s hard to do logarithms when you have a four year old climbing up your leg,” he said.
His goal is to help kids learn from his mistakes and get an education before having kids. He lets the students know that it is in reach. USALO does everything it can to help Hispanics go to college.
On Oct. 5, there will be a big Latin dance party in the ballroom and the proceeds will help USALO impact Hispanic students through club members like Steinmann, who is going to school, even at a later age.
“It took a while, but I’m here,” Steinmann said.