Phoenix, AZ – Citlalli Celis, a College Success Arizona scholar and first-generation college student, wants to be an educator.
“Ever since I was little I’ve always admired teachers, and especially throughout my whole middle school and high school career. During that time, I grew really close bonds to two of my teachers, and I think that really encouraged me to pursue a degree which would allow me to become an educator. I’ve always wanted to work around little children and be in that world, so maybe I’ll end up being a Kindergarten teacher.”
Citlalli, age 19, was born and raised in Phoenix and graduated from North High School in 2017. She’s currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Human Development at Arizona State University, “There are a lot of possibilities and pathways I can take which is one of the reasons I decided upon my degree. Another reason I’ve decided upon this degree is that I am able to become either a teacher or a child specialist, and those are the two options that I’m keeping in mind so far my likely career choices.”
Citlalli adds that the transition from high school to college has been challenging, but also rewarding, “Starting at ASU really was culture shock for me, because I came from a high school made up mostly of minorities, and ASU seems to be more majorities, so it was definitely interested transitioning. But, it’s also opened a lot of doors for me and I have definitely liked the whole experience of being open to new traditions and cultures and being able to find a group that you’re able to relate to. Also, I live on campus and there is a lot of flexibility with my schedule (as compared to high school). Between classes when I have gaps, I’m allowed to go back to my dorm if I need to, or just hang around. So, there’s lot more freedom in college, but it’s something that if you use it wisely, it will work to your advantage.”
Citlalli is among the hundreds of high potential students from low income circumstances who have earned scholarships from College Success Arizona. The scholarship provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses and also specialized mentoring services through a team of “Success Advisers.”
Citlalli’s Success Adviser is Matt Sotelo, “Not every scholarship is there to support you, and keep you on track throughout your college journey, with the goal of finishing in four years. But with Matt, he’s always there to encourage you and ask how you’re doing, not only school-wise but life-wise. So, it’s nice to always have that cheerleader there for me, and especially the consistency of his guidance and support.”
And so far as the financial support element of the scholarship, “It’s definitely one of the biggest advantages I have, because I never thought that I would be able to go to a four-year university. Once I learned about the College Success Arizona scholarship, I realized how much I can do with it, and it’s also allowed me stay on campus which is one of the bigger advantages I have as opposed to some of my peers, who live off campus.”
Meanwhile, Citalli tells us that her parents were a major source of encouragement to pursue a college education, and that her involvement with the Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program was another big influence, “This program was definitely another major source of support and inspiration I had through much of my middle and high school years. It’s another program which I highly encourage students to get involved with, because that support system helps you go a long way and you meet so many wonderful people, who can become your long-term friends.”
According the to the ASU website, the ‘Hispanic Mother-Daughter program is an early-outreach middle and high school program designed to increase the number of first-generation Arizona students who are qualified and prepared to enroll at Arizona State University through direct family involvement.’
Beyond the books, Citlalli devotes a lot of her energy to her sorority, “I joined a multicultural sorority called Gamma Alpha Omega, through which I gained a whole sisterhood. I currently hold a fundraising chair at the sorority, and we put together events like a soccer tournament. It’s really exciting because with the soccer tournament we are definitely helping to raise funds for one of our scholarships. And, I think that’s one of my aspirations in life – helping other people, and empowering other people.”
Citlalli has some advice for middle and high school students considering their own college options and opportunities, “One of my main tips is to never be afraid to ask for help. I feel that for a lot of us first-year students it can be kind of nerve-wracking to ask for help but know that there is always someone out there that is going to help, and who has the resources and time. So, never be afraid to ask for help because there are a lot of people willing to help you.”
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.