It’s taken Arlette Nunez 20 years, but she’s on her way to achieving her life-long goal: getting her college degree.

Arlette graduated from what was then Jones Metropolitan High School of Business and Commerce in the early 1990’s before transferring to Northeastern Illinois University for one semester. She decided to take a semester off, but that semester turned into over 20 years that she spent raising her three sons and having various jobs in business administration. Having left the working world to spend time with her sons, when Arlette was ready to get back to her career she saw that while she was qualified for many open positions, she was lacking one important credential: her college degree.

So, knowing that she wanted to get into healthcare administration and with Malcolm X College right in her neighborhood, she made the decision to jump back into school. Not only did she become an honor student, but she got involved on campus by joining the Student Government Association as a senator and vice-president, being a One Million Degrees Scholar and Ambassador, joining TRIO, being a work-study student, and joining the GUIDE mentoring program. Outside of school, she volunteers extensively for various marathon organizations in runner participant services.

While at MXC, Arlette had other challenges in her life – there were deaths in her family, she had to figure out how to get herself and her family into a better living situation, and overcame other personal struggles. Through all that, Arlette never gave up and never stopped going to classes. She did, however, use the supports available at MXC, like the Wellness Center, Academic Support Center, Career Center, and One Million Degrees tutoring.

Arlette persevered and finished strong – graduating with honors with an Associate in General Studies in May 2018. With help from One Million Degrees and the Transfer Center, Arlette is now on her way to Elmhurst College with a full scholarship to obtain her bachelor’s degree. She also plans to go on to earn her master’s degree. She is proud to be on her way to achieving her life-long goal of getting her degree, and happy that so far, she has been able to do it without taking out loans or going into debt. She is also proud to be the first college graduate in her family, setting a strong example for her three sons and other family members.

“College is what you make of it, so be an active participant in your education. It wasn’t as hard as I was afraid it would be, because of all the support I got while I was at Malcolm X. City Colleges gave me my life back and gave me my confidence back.”

Arlette is also very grateful to her mother, Virginia Flores, who instilled in her a strong sense of self, and who has always been very supportive throughout her academic journey.

Arlette hopes to be able to use her education to help others navigate what can often be a complicated healthcare system, both in the United States and in Central America, and remove barriers to healthcare access for low income families. She also wants to assist underserved, impoverished and at-risk individuals to accomplish personal, educational and career goals.

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