Tempe, AZ – Alejandra Fuentes wants to be a psychiatrist.
Alejandra explains, “During my senior year in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to study in college, so I researched a lot of different majors and I found psychology and psychiatry to be very interesting. What I like a lot about psychiatry especially, is that it includes medicine – and the health field is definitely something that I want to be involved in. I really want to be able to help people and make a difference in someone’s life, and to me, treating patients with mental illness is intriguing. I feel like mental health doesn’t really get all of attention that it deserves and needs.”
Alejandra, age 19, was born in Safford, Arizona but grew up mostly in Morenci, Arizona, and graduated from Morenci High School. Morenci and Safford are located in the Southeastern part of the state.
Alejandra is currently attending Arizona State University and pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and she’s considering a heavier course-load, “I’m looking into double-majoring, because when I was in high school my school offered a great opportunity of dual-enrollment with the local community college. So, I was able to graduate from a community college before I graduated from high school. I got my two years done and pretty much finished all of my basic general education classes, which put me ahead coming into ASU. Because of that, I have the ability to either graduate early from ASU, or I can double-major.”
Alejandra adds that her academic ambition and success has a lot to do with per parents:
“My parents, they didn’t go to college, they’re from Mexico and they grew up in a very different lifestyle compared to the one that I have. Just seeing firsthand the experiences they have struggled through is motivating me to take advantage of all of the opportunities that I have here – because, I have so many opportunities that my parents weren’t afforded when they were my age.”
Alejandra is among the hundreds of students who have worked hard and earned a scholarship from College Success Arizona. Alejandra says the scholarship, which provides up to six-thousand dollars per year, has made life a lot less difficult, “It’s helped tremendously. Honestly, I don’t think I would have been able to go straight to university if it wouldn’t have been for scholarships. If it wasn’t for scholarships I probably would have had to do more classes at community college, because it’s more affordable. The College Success Arizona scholarship is a big portion of the reason why I’m at ASU, and I’m extremely grateful for it. College is not cheap at all, but the money from this scholarship gives me the possibility of reaching my dreams.”
In addition to the financial support, students such as Alejandra receive specialized mentoring services from “Success Advisers.”
Robert Davis is Alejandra’s success adviser, “Robert is great. He’s always there when I need him. I actually had a school issue not too long ago and I reached out to him, because I really needed some advice, and he got back to me as soon as he could, and he really helped me through it. I have a great support system, but my parents didn’t go to college, so they don’t really understand some of the problems I have with school. So, it’s been great having Robert as an adviser and as a motivator.”
Research shows that academic advisers play a critical role in the success of first-generation college students.
Meanwhile, moving from a small town to a huge city can be a difficult transition, but Alejandra says it was pretty painless, “I’ve actually had quite a few people ask me this question, and it’s funny because the answer is ‘no.’ You might think that a small town girl moving to the big city would be a big change, but honestly I adapted so well and it really wasn’t a culture shock for me. Tempe is still Arizona and it’s not like my town is that much different, other than being way smaller.”
Alejandra has some advice for middle and high school students considering college, “You should definitely go for it. The one thing that was holding me back from going to university was the financial aspect of it, but there’s so many scholarships out there that you can apply for. I think anyone who thinks college is too expensive, should really look into the resources that are available for them, and don’t be afraid to reach out to people for help with any questions you may have. During my senior year, I had a lot of help from my teachers, my counselors, friends, and family.”