I have always been enthusiastic about learning, and planned to attend college straight out of high school. However, due to challenges, insecurities and self-fabricated inhibitions, those plans were not carried out as expected.
I eventually entered the workforce, believing that I would have the resources and soon make time to continue my plans towards earning a degree – but “life” got in the way, as it often does. I fell in love, got married, had my children, and my priorities quickly shifted. As my children grew older, the yearning to complete my education grew stronger, but I continued to sit in thought. Many around me told me, “go to college, you’ll do just fine,” but my experience and struggle as a young immigrant student kept me from attaining my goals and reaching my full potential. Though I had moved to Chicago from Puerto Rico at a young age, and more than enough time had passed to acclimate to the United States, I continued to struggle with a ‘neither from here nor there’ complex.
My experience taught me first-hand that along with opportunity come challenges. As a mother, I knew that I never wanted to send my children down a path I had not traveled first and so, my motherly heart compelled me to act. Feeling more confidence in my skills in a career setting, I opted to seek employment within City Colleges of Chicago before enrolling as a student–specifically at Wright College, as it has always been regarded as a pillar in our community. My friends and family members teased that I was supposed to pick up a student schedule not a job, but the community at Wright College was exactly what I needed!
My colleagues soon learned of my aspirations and were more than encouraging. Laura Nitanda, formerly a transition specialist in Adult Education, brought me to the Testing Center and later left me in the very capable hands of Advisor Malgorzata Haptas. I will always be grateful to Ms. Haptas, who helped me find my way back to a healthy dose of strong-will and who together with Associate Dean Llopiz equipped me with the tools to advocate for myself as a student. Advisor Nancy Galindo and all my Wright College Humboldt Park colleagues understood the struggles I faced along the way as a first-gen, Latinx student and never let me give up. I finally made it to graduation day and earned my associate degree. I shook President Potash’s hand and received my diploma, not knowing I would soon work under his leadership and that he would be the one to guide me in the next step of my academic journey. President Potash suggested I prepare to transfer, and I went back to the Advising and Transfer Center and met with Transfer Director Susan Calabrese. She did not waste time – she recommending options that worked for me, and soon after connected me with Wright alumni so that I could learn more about my planned transfer destination. There are so many more faculty and staff at Wright not mentioned here whose influence helped better prepare me to succeed as a student and professional.
I recently earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and Leadership from North Park University, and today I am exploring graduate programs. My transfer success story is a compilation of the support I received from the Wright College community, for which I am immensely grateful and in which I take pride in being a member.