Phoenix, AZ – Leslie Bautista has always loved the Earth, and is now working toward a career where she can have a real impact, helping to preserve and protect our environment.
Leslie explains, “My motivation is the sustainability emphasis of civil engineering. I really care about the Earth – so, anything that has to do with saving the planet, my heart and my passion is right there. In civil engineering, you build structures and other things where you have to think about the environment first, before anything is done. And, I feel that that’s something that I’ve always cared about, which is the environment. As of right now, I see myself working for the city as a civil engineer, and pretty much, if they have to build anything, I get to have a say in the process, and give the environment a voice in the process of building.”
Leslie, age 19, was born and raised in Phoenix and graduated from Carl Hayden Community High School. She’s attending Glendale Community College and plans to transfer to Arizona State University to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering.
Leslie says transitioning from high school to college was a bit of a challenge, “When I first started high school, I knew that it would be kind of easy, because I loved school – I always gave it my all. I had AP honors classes and I worked really, really hard. But, transitioning to college from high school was a bit scary and hard, because I really didn’t have a good understanding of what college is all about. Thankfully, I’ve realized that college can be difficult, and that it just takes a little bit of motivation and determination, and persistence, to keep on going – and I feel like that’s what I have, and that’s why I’ve stayed in college, and I will continue to stay in college and reach my goal of where I want to be, and that’s to become a civil engineer.”
Parental encouragement can play a huge role in children growing up and attending college. Leslie says:
“I am Mexican American and my parents are completely Mexican. I grew up speaking Spanish and my parents always told me that they never had the opportunity to go to school because they were taking care of us (kids). They did cross the border, and so I always told myself, ‘They crossed the border, so, I have to cross the stage and get my (college) degree.’ They worked so hard – I saw them give up blood, sweat, and tears to give us the best life possible. They’ve always supported me, and given me the motivation to go college and encouraged me to do it, and no matter what, don’t ever quit.”
Leslie is among the students who receive specialized mentoring services through College Success Arizona’s team of talented “Success Advisers,” and its partnership with the EXCEL Program, which serves students at Glendale Community College and other community colleges. Matt Sotelo is Leslie’s Success Adviser, “I feel like Matt’s role in my life is really important and I feel that we’ve built a friendship. Every time that I go into his office, it’s never a disappointment, and he’s always there with an open mind and an open heart. Matt is always there to listen and to help anybody out, and it’s just a great experience to be able to talk to him about how my life is going, how college is going, where I’m planning to go, and where I’m planning to be – because, I know that I have his support along with the Excel Program.”
For middle and high school students considering their own college options, Leslie offers the following advice, “Never be afraid of taking risks. Even if you don’t have the confidence or self-belief to know that you will succeed in college, you won’t know for sure unless you take the risk. Honestly, that’s what I’m still learning now; you just can’t be afraid of going out there and getting it, because if you really want it, you’re going to make it happen. If you have your own confidence and persistence, anything is possible.”
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.