The Chance to Soar

by Monica Ochoa, Sophomore at the University of Notre Dame

As the time to make my college decisions approached in 2014, the financial aspect was a huge factor in deciding where I’d be able to attend. The College and Career Center at El Rancho High School did an excellent job of providing great resources for students, like myself, who are the first in their family to attend college. One of the most impacting resources they offered me was the opportunity to apply to the Generation 1st Degree – Pico Rivera Scholarship provided by Jacki and Gilbert Cisneros.

It is with strong certainty that I say that receiving this scholarship has played a huge role in why I am currently at my dream school today, University of Notre Dame. This scholarship allowed me to break the financial barrier of attending a private four-year university. Not only has Generation 1st Degree – Pico Rivera blessed me financially, but it has also blessed me in an inspiring way.

Recently, I was able to meet my role model, NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez, through Mrs. Cisneros’ new forum called the Latino-Student Empowerment Speaker Series. It is because of programs like this that first-generation college students are able to attend our dream schools and become successful Latinos.

Today, I am a sophomore Aerospace Engineering major at the Notre Dame. My ultimate career goal is one that, at times, felt like a pipe dream until last week when I met Astronaut Hernandez. I hope to work as an engineer for NASA one day and ultimately become an astronaut. Everything is possible as long as one keeps saying, “Sí se puede!”