Jesus Valenzuela – My Story, Chapter 2
College Success Arizona presents “My Story, Chapter 2” featuring Jesus Valenzuela, one of the many high potential students from low income circumstances who have earned a scholarship from College Success Arizona.
We are following Jesus as he completes his journey at the University of Arizona in pursuit of his Bachelor’s Degree.
This is chapter 2 of Jesus’ story, centered on his experiences during the second semester of his Freshmen year at the University of Arizona. Jesus is 19 years old, and is a graduate of Desert View High School in Tucson, where he was born and raised. Jesus is passionate about music, basketball, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business.
Jesus says he spent much of the second semester losing weight he gained during the first semester, “One of the things that I really struggled with back in my first semester was my increased weight gain. I gained the ‘freshmen 15’ (pounds) which seems to be an actual real myth. It kind of brought me down because I didn’t feel as comfortable with myself as I normally was. But, I have some really good friends who kept me accountable with my actions and my eating habits, and I actually ended up losing those 15 pounds during my second semester, and losing an additional six pounds while I was at it. The weight loss has definitely been a big change from the first semester, and it’s going to continue because I have goals, which take time, but I’ll get there eventually.”
Jesus adds that the weight loss is helping in other areas, “Now I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with where I’m at, and that in itself – the weight loss – helped me academically by having a better state of mind. The weight loss has also help me musically – especially after a good basketball game my vocals are nice and warmed up, and I have this inspiration to sing.”
Meanwhile, Jesus says he also stepped up his academic game, “Another thing that is changing is my academics. I found myself kind of getting into this really plateaued state where I was doing good, but I felt like I could do better. I don’t know if it was getting kind of complacent and comfortable with where I was academically. But, I was able to hold myself accountable, and I knew that where I was academically wasn’t me, because usually I’m a go-getter. So I’m doing a lot better and I’ve been able to have some of my friends hold me accountable, and I would do the same for them. And, that’s why I value so many of the friendships that I’ve made here, and also some of the ones that I’ve carried over from high school.”
Jesus says his strong academic performance during the second semester opened doors to summer opportunities, such as working as a Resident Assistant for the NewStart Summer Program at the U of A. “The purpose of this program is to allow incoming Freshmen to take two courses in a span of six weeks, to help them get acclimated to the whole college lifestyle and the university itself. Last year I did this program when I was coming into the U of A, and I absolutely loved it. As a Resident Assistant, I was sort of a mentor for about 30 students. The way that I saw it was if I had the opportunity to impact one student, it could be a catalyst effect, and they could pay it forward and inspire somebody else.”
Jesus explains that his work with NewStart, specifically acting as a mentor or teacher, spurred an interest in education, “For the most part, helping other people continues to be my main educational motivation. I’ve just been having different experiences with clubs and organizations. I feel that if I were to do something with education, or the business side of that, I would be able to have a positive impact and help other people, and ultimately enjoy it as well.”
The first year of college can hasten big changes for many students, Jesus says, “I’ve become a lot more mature and independent, and also wiser, because we have those incidents as a student where you might not be doing your best, but then we can learn through our failures and our faults. College has really helped me to develop academically, and also to see how much support I have through my family, friends, and College Success Arizona. It’s really amazing to have such a great support system.”
Jesus earned the College Success Arizona scholarship which provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for academic expenses, and specialized mentoring services through a team of talented (and super cool) Success Advisers. Barbra Scrivner is Jesus’ adviser, “Barbra has given be some really good tips and advice on how to stay organized, whether that’s using Excel or Google Drive, Google Documents. And, every once in a while she’ll send me these emails with scholarship opportunities, whether it’s really simple ones or others that take more time, Barbra lets me know about it.”
Meanwhile, Jesus continues to pursue his passion for music, “I’ve taken some of the money that I’ve saved up from work and this summer program to get myself a microphone and some recording equipment to come out with some music. A lot of my supporters really do seem to enjoy the music. It’s really something that I do for myself, but if I can make others happy with my singing and playing, why not go for it.”
Thank you, Jesus, for sharing your story and we wish you the very best in your Sophomore year at the University of Arizona. College Success Arizona will continue to report on Jesus’ college journey.
Since 2005, College Success Arizona has worked with nearly 1,300 students, and provided more than 16 million dollars in scholarships and success services to help increase the college attainment rate in Arizona. If you would like to be part of the mission of providing educational opportunity to high potential students from low income circumstances, your tax-deductible contribution can be made through the “Donate” button on the top of this page.