Coming to America from El Salvador when she was 10 years-old, Bertha Mendoza worked hard as a student, but her options were limited when she graduated from George Washington High School. Because she was not eligible for financial aid, she felt like a degree was simply out of reach for her financially. With limited career options, Bertha focused on another passion – starting a family.

After the passage of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Bertha realized she could still be a mother while also achieving her career goals. She started classes after going through the DACA application process. By this time, she had spent years outside of the classroom and going back was scary. She didn’t know if she could be successful, and she was unsure if she would be able to balance her classes with her family responsibilities. Bertha credits her family with always being an amazing safety net to help her achieve her goals. The support they gave, both emotionally and physically, are a big reason why Bertha was always able to stay committed to her schoolwork.

Now that she has finished her associate degree, Bertha plans to continue her studies in Spanish education at a four-year university. What Bertha will miss most is the personal interactions she had at Olive-Harvey College. “Olive-Harvey does a great job making you feel like you belong,” she says. “You’re always a person at Olive-Harvey. You’re never a number.”

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