My college journey began back in 1994 when I enrolled at Wilbur Wright College.

At the time, I was a full-time student and my mother’s caregiver. She was 39 years old and had experienced heart failure since she was 18. I wanted to be a psychologist, so I managed to care for her and go to school. I completed my coursework at Wright and then transferred to UIC.

I was trying so hard to finish my bachelor’s degree before my mother’s condition progressed to stage four and had to be put on a waiting list for a heart. As I became a senior, my mother had a heart attack and two strokes. I was pregnant with my first child at the time, but I managed to go to school and study in the hospital during the night.

Then, I was told my mother had a life expectancy of three months if she didn’t get a heart.

I had my first panic attack. I couldn’t retain anything anymore. I left school to stay with her at the Loyola Hospital Transplant Unit. She was there for two months until she passed away in 2008 at the age of 49.

My father was also terminally ill but not as bad as my mother at that time. One month before my mother passed away, he had a pacemaker implanted—he was suffering from an autoimmune illness called Sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis damaged my father’s heart, lungs, liver, skin and central nervous system. He passed away while waiting for a liver transplant.

Even though I was grieving, I knew that eventually I would go back to school and do something with my life. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved school—that feeling never went away. In fact, the feeling is stronger now because I have two wonderful reasons that observe every move I make and how I solve anything that comes toward me.

My little family motivated me in doing the best I could with what I had. I am making the most amazing lemonade with all the lemons life has thrown at me. After all the darkness, I see a future full of possibilities and options I once thought were gone for me.

Wright College helped me get there. The advisors at Wright guided me through the process of becoming a student again. They made me excited to come back and excited to finish.

I now plan to transfer my courses from Wright and UIC to a university and obtain my bachelor’s degree. Through all of my experiences with my parents, I discovered that my passion is in healthcare. I have the patience and compassion necessary to help people in their worst moments—just like the amazing healthcare workers who cared for my parents helped me.

—Maria Delgado, Wright College Class of 2022

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