Marcko Burrola came to the United States at the age of five and spent most of his childhood undocumented. His parents were always supportive of his education saying the reason they came to the U.S. was for Marcko and his siblings to have more opportunities and a better education than they had. His mom would go to tutoring to learn the materials alongside her children while his dad worked hard to provide financial support.
In his sophomore year of high school, Marcko received a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) permit. He graduated from Sunnyside High School located in the southside of Tucson, which is a Title I school in a predominantly Latino community.
Since DACA students cannot receive Pell Grants or any financial aid, Marcko started at a community college to reduce his tuition rates for the first two years of his degree. According to him, the transition from a predominantly Latino high school to Pima Community College (PCC) was relatively easy because of the support system he had and the diverse community at PCC.
Marcko’s transition to a university was a little more difficult. Marcko felt like a number. The school was bigger, less diverse, and he was entering as a junior. He said the one thing that made him feel better was receiving texts from his CSA Success Adviser and attending Scholar Success Network events. Marcko felt that at these events he had professionals who understood and supported him. He also was able to make friends that will support him throughout his postsecondary career.
While Marcko is currently studying Marketing at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, when considering transferring he was not sure he belonged in the state’s top business school. His Success Adviser helped him through those doubts.
“Being able to explain how I felt was a whole new world. She listened and understood what I was feeling. She had felt the same way. She said go for it and to go out of my comfort zone,” Marcko said about the interaction
Serendipitously, Marcko became a U.S. citizen towards the end of his sophomore year in college – just in time to transfer to the University of Arizona and receive the full Pell Grant. It was perfect timing and a lot of hard work and stress to get his citizenship approved. Because of his support system, Marcko realized he could break the barriers. Now that he is close to finishing his degree, he wants to motivate other diverse students to follow their dreams and not be inhibited by the barriers of the system.
“Having a mentor has been important because it’s a way for me to get out what I have bottled in. It’s a safe haven. I feel I can talk about anything going on in life. I feel like it’s a way to talk about me. I am more than just a student and my mentor is more than a mentor. We can both help each other,” Marcko said about his CSA Success Adviser. “[My adviser] reminded me to work hard, but also give myself a break and recognize hard work, and my own successes. There were things I didn’t know were worthy to be proud of celebrating.”
Through listening to guest speakers in the program, his adviser and other advisers, and learning from alumni and other scholars, he realized he had so much to be proud of.