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Dina de Leon

Tempe, AZ – Dina de Leon could very well end up working at a big corporation or owning a startup business. And it’ll likely be in Italy.

Dina, now 21 and a junior at Arizona State University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Economics and also studying Italian, explains that she has a passion for Italy, “I really love how Italian life can seem a little bit simpler than here in America where everything tends to be very fast-paced. In the way that they eat and the way that they dress – they are able to not take for granted small day-to-day things that we might kind of rush through, such as when we’re eating.”

Dina was born in the Town of Guadalupe, Arizona and was raised in Tempe where she attended grade school and graduated from Marcos de Niza High School. She was able to earn a scholarship from College Success Arizona, which provides students with up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses, and also provides specialized mentoring services.

Looking beyond the Arizona state line, Dina says her career and life goals are centered in Italy, “I’m actually looking into corporate opportunities in Italy such as United Technologies Aerospace – they have a base there. So I’d like to visit them this summer and see if I can learn about the criteria for applying after graduation, because I know I would need a work visa or a work permit. I’m also very interested in startups and the startup culture. I’ve attended Phoenix startup mixers and a startup weekend, and I would like to experience that in Italy, which is another thing I will be pursuing this summer.”

Unlike many college students, Dina says she will graduate with little or no student debt because of her scholarship:

“If I didn’t have College Success Arizona I wouldn’t be able to pursue my education by any means. They’ve not only provided for me financially but also with resources such as mentorship throughout college.”

Dina also has high praise for her Success Advisers (mentors) at College Success Arizona, “I’ve been able to have mentors such as Myrna Cardenas and Marjorie DeRubies who are always there for me when I need them – and Rich Nickel (CEO of College Success Arizona) has provided opportunities for the scholars to attend networking luncheons. Any opportunity that presents itself to them, they always pass it on to their students.”

For students working on their own college plan, Dina says, “Be very persistent in finding out what it is that they would like to do during their time in college. I know when they enter (college) they might have a lot of high expectations for themselves but it’s okay to kind of wander a bit, but still have a purpose. Leave a little bit of room for failure but at the same time just don’t give up in finding what it is that you’re truly passionate about.”

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 backgrounds, your tax deductible contribution can be made through the “Donate” button on the top of this page.

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