By Troy Wilde
March 14, 2016
Yuma, AZ – “Really pursue your dreams, because if you have a dream and you don’t work for it you will never know where you could go.”
Those are the words of Aneth Mejia who is about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Northern Arizona University’s Yuma Branch Campus. She was born in Mexico and did not speak English when her family moved to the U.S. and she started the fourth grade in Las Vegas, Nevada. A year later her family moved to Yuma.
Aneth explains that learning English was a huge challenge, “I would cry a lot and I was a really depressed child because there were not many teachers who could speak Spanish. Eventually they started sending me to a first grade teacher who knew Spanish. Through her I was able to learn my ABC’s and also start to have a basic conversation in English.”
Aneth went on to prosper in school – graduating from Cibola High School and earning a scholarship through College Success Arizona. She says it has eased the financial stress of paying for college, “It has helped me a lot, especially with the books because I didn’t realize that in college you would actually have to buy the books. Also, I attended summer school and with the scholarship I was able to pay for those classes and pay for the materials I was going to need for those courses. So it has really, really helped me.”
Aneth adds that Matt Sotelo, her success adviser at College Success Arizona, has provided input and guidance throughout her college experience:
“It was just really, really helpful to have someone push you and look out for you, and make sure that you are on the right track – and also help you when you feel lost.”
So far as the future is concerned, Aneth is hoping to work in Yuma, “My goal is to get started in social work at the schools here in Yuma. There’s a lot the schools aren’t doing or trying to hide – the problems – such as bullying, and I feel like there is a huge need.” Aneth adds that eventually she is planning on pursuing a master’s degree in Social Work.
She started out wanting to be a nurse, but Aneth changed course, “I realized nursing didn’t encompass what I wanted to do and in social work you’re able to do so much more. You’re able to give options to the client and the client is able to decide what they want to do. Social work is so broad that if you burn out in an area like working in schools, I can move into another area like working with women or veterans.”
Aneth says college has helped her become a more confident person, “It really made me more responsible and obviously I feel more confident in myself as a person and as a professional. When making decisions I feel that I’m more confident and I feel that I’m prepared.”
Encouragement from parents and other family members is often cited by students as a strong motivation for attending college. Aneth says her mom and dad always wanted her to pursue her American dream. “One of the reasons why we came to the United States was for us to have an education because they didn’t have an education. And they just really emphasized that we had this opportunity that they didn’t have and encouraged us to take advantage of it.”