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Lupita de los Santos

Tucson, AZ – Lupita de los Santos grew up in Yuma and left as a Cibola High School graduate – she plans to return as a speech pathologist with a master’s degree.

Lupita says, “Ultimately I will be working towards my master’s so I can be a speech language pathologist. I do plan to go back to Yuma and offer my services as a speech pathologist since there is such a high need there in that community.”

Lupita, age 22, graduated earlier this year from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. Lupita says her career choice is driven by her family experience, “I really think my own family has inspired me to be a speech pathologist. I have a younger cousin who has ‘cri du chat syndrome’ which is also called ‘cry of the cat syndrome,” and I have a younger sister who has a learning impairment.  I’ve learned how to grow with them and you kind of learn what their method of communication is. In college I’ve learned that I can make a career out of helping others and giving back, even to my own family.”

Lupita explains that speech pathology encompasses a broad range of patients, “It’s a field that works with people’s communication disorders so you can work with a range of patients – from someone who is on the autism spectrum, or you can work with someone who has a language impairment, or if they’ve had a stroke for instance and they’re trying to regain the ability to communicate with others. You’re really acting as a facilitator for speech for someone who has lost the ability to speak orally, and you’re definitely trying to give them ways to reactivate or learn a different way of communicating with others. With children for instance, who don’t know the rules of the language, you’re really teaching them how to acquire those skills.”

Moving from Yuma to Tucson and from her family’s home to living on her own, has helped Lupita grow in several ways, “It definitely has made me more independent in terms of not having to rely on my parents so much. My mom’s a single mom and I also grew up with my aunts, which are her two younger sisters. So they definitely gave me a great example of how to be an independent woman, and how to really be strong and how to move forward in life. So I’ve definitely grown over these last four years in terms of being able to care for myself, being able to take on those adult-like roles like paying bills on time, and finding a way to get transportation or just moving in general.”

Lupita is among a group of hardworking students who have earned scholarships from College Success Arizona which provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses, “My family is right from Mexico and I’m the first generation here, so a college degree or just graduating from high school, is a big accomplishment. So having those funds basically allowed me to be able to manage my life here and pay for school, and really not feel as burdened with the cost of tuition.”

Lupita has some tips for middle and high school students considering college:

“I would say to go for it, no matter what experience level you have or even if there’s nobody in your family who has gone to college, do it, it’s possible – it’s not a huge and outrageous dream, it’s attainable. Also, being at a college or a university allows you to explore and discover yourself. You get to find out what your priorities in life are and what you moral codes are. So if you want that time to really grow as a person, I would say pursue a secondary education, and follow your dreams and passions. And there’s help out there if you need it too.”

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