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Jesus Valenzuela

Tucson, AZ – Jesus Valenzuela is in his first year at the University of Arizona, and he’s on a path that could lead to a career in business, law, or perhaps something else.

Jesus explains, “Right now I’m directed toward being a pre-business major, but ultimately I’m still undecided. There are bursts of time where I want to work in the medical field, and then I may be about becoming a lawyer to represent people who can’t really represent themselves. What I do know is that I would like to be able to work with people, with individuals.”

Jesus, age 19, was born in Tucson and graduated from Desert View High School, and explains that he also lived in Phoenix for a period of time during his teenage years, “For the most part I was raised here in Tucson, but for about three years I got the opportunity to live in Phoenix. I really liked living in Phoenix where I attended P.L. Julian Middle School, and I’d like to go back and visit, and see some familiar faces. After living in Phoenix I came back to Tucson, and I established myself here, and worked hard in my high school career.”

Jesus adds that transitioning from high school to college was made easier by getting some insight into college life:

“Fortunately I had a great counseling staff back at my old high school who directed me to a program called New Start, which is a six-week course during the summer prior to your freshmen year. So, I was fortunate enough to actually attend two courses here at the U of A, and stay on campus at one of their dorms, during the summer right before my first semester. That experience in itself allowed me to sort of adapt to the system and learn how to navigate through college, such as learning about courses and homework assignments. I was also able to familiarize myself with the campus, which was the beautiful part of it, because I’ve lived here for most of my life but I didn’t know what was in my backyard, this great university.”

For Jesus, college also means a lot more freedom and personal responsibility than in high school, “The workload and the curriculum itself, that seemed difficult at first just because I was just so used to the pace in high school. Here at college, it’s more on you in the sense that your professors are motivated to help you, but a lot of it comes down to the amount of effort the student puts into it. Having responsibility at first was kind of troubling because I wasn’t the best at time management, but I’ve gradually learned to become better at it. Learning to manage your time in college is part of it – versus having a lot more freedom in high school where everything is planned out and scheduled for you. Another thing that has been difficult is to be able to communicate, and stay in contact, with old friends from high school who aren’t going to the U of A – and also just staying in touch with my family because I don’t see them that often.”

As he moves through the journey and challenge of achieving his undergraduate degree, Jesus says he has a great support system in place, “Just remembering what I value, and what I should be striving for, has helped in the transition too, and just knowing that I have so much support from my family, my counselor, College Success Arizona, and all sorts of people. Just knowing that I have all of these people supporting me, in the back of mind, it gives me motivation to move forward because I’m not just doing this for myself, but also other people want to see me successful.”

So far as the social aspect of attending college, Jesus is working hard to make new friends and network, “I’m an active person and I really enjoy meeting new people. I like playing basketball and that was one of my safe-havens, my niche back in high school, and I was able to focus all of my time and efforts on that, and also try and become better as a person with the skills that I learned from basketball. Here at the U of A, I like going to the gym and interacting with different students, even graduate students who play basketball. It’s interesting to see how they evolved, and how they got through the University of Arizona, and just establishing relationships with people on campus.”

Meanwhile, Jesus is among the hundreds of hardworking students who have earned scholarships from College Success Arizona. Jesus is a Helios/Arizona Diamondbacks Scholar, and that scholarship brings financial support of up to six-thousand dollars per year, and also specialized mentoring services provided by a team of talented “Success Advisers.”

Barbra Scrivner is Jesus’s success adviser, “She’s just really easy to talk to and good to communicate with. Just having that comfort with somebody to talk to, and that comfort level where you can call them any time of the day and just ask them a question, or need some advice. I asked her a question about studying abroad and she sent me some links that I can look into. Barbra checks up on me and when we have our meetings here at the University of Arizona, it’s really casual where we get some coffee. We’ll talk about what my goals are and what I’m trying to accomplish this semester, and she holds me accountable for those goals.”

Read Chapter 2 of Jesus’ story

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