Crossing the Distance

By Lorena Rodriguez – El Rancho High School alumni and freshman Cross Country Runner at the University of La Verne

At a very early age my parents taught  my two younger brothers and me how to read and write by having us copy passages out of books and magazines. Later, we progressed to weekend tutoring with my mom on subjects that we struggled with. I was a great student in elementary school. Many people believed I’d live a promising life because I was so involved in clubs and activities. Despite knowing that money was tight, our parents never discouraged our dreams of going to college.

When I was in eighth grade, we lost our family home and found ourselves practically homeless. Thankfully, my tio and tia took us in and gave us some peace of mind. Losing our home scared me more than anything else I’ve lived through. My dreams of going to college diminished. Adding on to our troubles and financial problems, my mom had a cancer scare in December of that same year. It was through the difficult periods of my high school life that I discovered great programs at El Rancho High School to help me achieve my dreams.

Through my participation in the Be A Leader Foundation, I learned the importance of networking and having a professional outlook. Alma, the program’s Project Manager, was a very supportive figure in my life. She was always available when I needed help understanding my financial aid packets and helped me to narrow down which college was the best fit for me. In order to enrich my studies and guarantee my success, the foundation assisted me in finding certain aspects of a school that were truly important to me as a student.

I also attended The College Blueprint program, which held a rigorous summer boot camp. This changed my life completely. They guided me along the process of writing my personal statement. After countless hours and close to eleven critiqued drafts, I completed a very effective personal statement. This program also taught me how to select schools efficiently by narrowing them down by program, price range and the distance away from home. In essence, they helped me take a major leap in making one of the biggest decisions of my life.

In addition, I applied for the 2015 Frank Terrazas Generation 1st Degree Scholarship and when I received the news that I’d been chosen as a scholarship recipient, I nearly jumped for joy in the middle of campus. The scholarship not only helped alleviate a huge financial burden but it also helped with my substantial commuter expenses.

Thanks to the help of these Generation First Degree programs, I am now able to attend the University of La Verne. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be able to attend an institution that suits my needs and that is so devoted to the student body and the community. I never thought I’d fall in love so much with my university and field of study, Kinesiology.

I give thanks every day for my hard working parents and their support. Seeing me attend college is just one of the many milestones and achievements in their lives.

Life doesn’t always pan out perfectly but I’m very pleased where my life is headed, not only as a Cross Country competitor and a student at the University of La Verne, but as a role model for younger generations. It’s been a long journey but it’s a heck of a great beginning to a beautiful four years ahead.