Ana Lucia is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and is graduating in 2019. Before attending MSMU she completed coursework at a community college after being out of school for 10 years. Her story is a powerful reminder of the many obstacles first-generation students who are also immigrants have to overcome to make their dreams a reality. We are proud to serve students like Ana Lucia.

On her decision to return to school:

I was born in Guatemala and came to the United States at the age of three. My heart is American but I have a passionate love for my native country. I was undocumented most of my childhood and young adult life. After graduating high school I decided to go to a Junior College to study nursing which I completed successfully. Sadly, I couldn’t take the State Exams required to certify me as a nurse because the adjustment of my status was still in process. Eventually, I adjusted my immigration status, got married and had a beautiful little girl named Jaelyn. When she turned five, she was diagnosed with aggressive terminal brain cancer (DIPG) and passed away 11 months after her diagnosis. I turned my grief into action and decided to become a US citizen and get a college degree to improve my life. I have learned so much about loss and struggle at such as young age but my experiences have made my life meaningful.

On why she chose Mount St. Mary’s Weekend/Evening College:

After my Jaelyn passed, I began attending Los Angeles Harbor College taking psychology courses because my education became my objective. I was unsure about beginning my career as a medical social worker but I had a wonderful mentor and professor who informed me about the adult weekend program at MSMU. He helped me fill out the application online and pushed me to take on completing my bachelor degree.

 On her favorite thing about the program:

woman talking at table with peersThe face to face value of the classroom, the close and professional relationships that became so attainable between the professors and advisors. There are so many accessible resources available to all students.

Being able to keep my jobs work while attending the weekend program helped me ease back into school. I didn’t have to worry about losing financial stability, reducing the guilt about not helping my family financially. The resources and support are phenomenal and are found everywhere at MSMU. No one turns you away with help, however, it’s up to you to seek it. This was essential in encouraging me to continue my career as a student.

I see MSMU as my second home and place of solace where all my challenges and struggles are met with unconditional support and admiration.  

On how she managed it all:

There were times I felt juggling two jobs, a family and a college career were extremely tedious and challenging. I have taken four courses every semester and was able to sail through it all, my purpose to achieve has not stopped my goals.

On her favorite resources at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Weekend/Evening & Online College:

The PARC is amazing and has a full set of brilliant leaders that help you with demanding assignments. I remember leaving the PARC feeling a little better about how to approach an assignment whether it was math or writing.

Her best advice for anyone who wants to return to school as a working adult:

You CAN do it! Give yourself a chance to open up doors to new opportunities. Those opportunities can help you learn so much more about yourself and what you truly want in life.

Taking full advantage of the resources available is key! The library, our counselor and professors are there to help you manage your workload. I work for LAUSD and I am able to leave work at 3 pm and make time to take care of my daughter, cook dinner, rest and get to my homework. I created a block schedule for the amount of time I needed to study. I never let a gap of free time in my life be wasted. I learned to use my time wisely to meet all the demands and obligations I was managing. I was able to do this with two jobs, and a family. A commitment to your goals will help you succeed one course at a time, or maybe four courses at a time as I did.

Where she sees herself in the future:

My career aspirations are to get my Masters degree in Medical Social Work. I want to help families and children in hospitals and hospices. I want to do the same outstanding work that social workers did for me and Jaelyn during our journey with terminal cancer.

Our “How I Did It Series” features Mount Saint Mary’s University, Weekend/Evening & Online College students stories on how they manage, school, work, and life.

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