MOSES LAKE — People who want to go to college often face obstacles, and it's not just the expense.
Fatima Borjas, Fausto Parra and Jennifer Gallaway had kids. Erica Martell was in a serious accident that meant a long recovery and problems with pain medication – and she was helping out family members.
Sometimes it is the money – Irene Gonzalez worked to make enough money for one quarter, then worked until she had enough for another quarter. April Suarez used the Running Start program to help her with some of those expenses.
Phillip Christian had to face harassment (not at school) and worked two jobs while at BBCC. William Sheetstock had to find the motivation to try again.
The eight students were recognized for their perseverance at the annual Transforming Lives banquet on campus Wednesday night. Christian will represent the college at the state Transforming Lives program in January.
Parra, Martell, Gonzalez and Gallaway attended the dinner, and all of them said they couldn’t have made it without the help of their family and friends, and BBCC staff.
“Thanks, Mom,” Martell said; her mom supported her decision to go back to school in her mid-30s and stayed with her every step of the way. She also expressed gratitude for the support of Diana Villafana, of the college’s Student Success Center, and other college staff members.
Parra said his kids and their mom gave him the motivation to stay in school – he saw a better life for himself and his family. He also credited the BBCC staff. “You guys made me believe in myself again,” he said.
Callaway said her family’s support was crucial, and so was the help she got from the BBCC staff. Through the college she got help with childcare and academic support, and emotional support too, especially from Terry Kinzel, she said. Kinzel is the college’s Title V grant director. “She has been my rock,” Callaway said.
Gonzalez also thanked Kinzel and the BBCC staff; without their help she didn’t think she could’ve done it, she said. She had a message for anyone who’s thinking of going to school and hesitating over the obstacles. “You can do it. Go for it, don’t be scared.”
Keynote speaker Chio Flores said education – starting at Big Bend – was the key to her success. Flores, a native of Quincy, got her GED and associate’s degree at Big Bend, and worked at the college before continuing her education at Eastern Washington and Washington State. “Education, to me, is power,” she said.
“Education has transformed my life.” Currently Flores is vice-president for student services and enrollment management at Wenatchee Valley College. The journey through undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees made a big impact. “The process in itself has transformed me as a person.”
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at email@example.com.