Phoenix, AZ – Erika Aguirre grew up in Coolidge, Arizona, has a young daughter, and is planning on a career in higher education, or possibly business.
“I want to work in higher education. I’m really passionate about helping kids and have learned throughout college that I really enjoy the connection with students that comes from teaching. One of my main goals in life is to give back – I’ve received so many scholarships and so much help along the way, and so I feel it would give me a lot of joy in life to help young people. Eventually, I would also like to start my own business.”
Erika, age 22, graduated from Coolidge High School, and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Entrepreneurship at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Having a child during college may cause some students to stop, or delay going to school. Erika says her daughter has been a source of motivation and inspiration, “My daughter is almost two years old, and she is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I became pregnant during the middle of my college career and I was so afraid of what everybody was going to think. Thankfully, everyone around me was really supportive, and recognized that I was willing to work and study to achieve the goals that I have.”
Erika adds that she is learning from her daughter, “She has ignited more drive than I thought possible, because I know that I need to demonstrate and lead for her by example, so that she understands that she can do the same. She has taught me life and given it so much more meaning.”
Erika earned a scholarship from College Success Arizona which provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses, which Erika says has, “Made all of the difference. I don’t know many people who can say that they’re debt free, and I’m going to graduate college and have no debt. This amazing scholarship has allowed me to do the two things that are most important to me; raise my daughter and continue my education.”
The scholarship also provides students with specialized mentoring services through Success Advisers. Erika says Matt Sotelo, her success adviser, has been a friend and mentor, “Matt is Awesome! He’s one of the first people that I told about my pregnancy and he said, ‘don’t worry about it all, we’re going to figure it out.’ And we did figure out my college path after my daughter was born. He’s just always been there to help me, whether it’s signing up for classes, or guidance in some other area.”
Meanwhile, now a college student in the big city, Erika has a fondness for the small town where she grew up, “It’s a town where everybody knows each other. You’re graduating from high school with the same people you started school with in kindergarten. I’ve grown to appreciate my hometown more as I’ve gotten older. I’ve had amazing opportunities to represent Coolidge, such as serving on the governor’s youth commission, and I represent my small town with a lot of the scholarships that I’ve received.”
Erika has some advice for middle and high school students considering their own path to college, “Don’t give up no matter how hard it seems, or how tired you are. No matter what your dream is, keep going, and imagine whatever you want in life and go for it. Anything you really want in life – you’re either going to find an excuse, or you’re going to do it.”