Tempe, AZ – Paulina Vazquez is working on her dream of one day being an orthopedic surgeon for the Arizona Cardinals, or another professional sports team.
Paulina explains, “I’ve played sports since I was in junior high and I love sports so much! I took a sports medicine class in high school where we learned how to wrap ankles and things like that. So, I really loved that class and then I took anatomy, and really loved that as well. Then when I came to ASU and started studying psychology, I thought more about medicine and becoming a doctor in the professional sports world. Basically, I’m hoping that my love of sports and interest in science will come together as a sports doctor.”
Paulina, age 19, was born in Mexico and lived there until the age of five when her family relocated to the Phoenix area. Paulina graduated from Mountain View High School and is currently a Sophomore at Arizona State University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, with the ultimate goal of attending medical school.
Paulina is among the hundreds of high potential students from low income circumstances who have earned scholarships from College Success Arizona. Paulina’s scholarship is provided through College Success Arizona but is funded by the BHHS Legacy Foundation. Paulina says, “It has been so helpful. Without the scholarship that I have currently, there is no way that I could afford to attend a four-year university or to live on campus. For my freshmen year and now my sophomore year, I’ve been able to live on campus, which is awesome because I don’t have a car and it would have been hard to get here. It’s been such a great help because tuition is expensive, and it has also helped to pay for my meal plan as well. Also, because I’m pre-med focused, I take a lot of science classes and they (ASU) charge about a hundred dollars for each of those labs, and it adds up quickly.”
Meanwhile, scholars such as Paulina also receive specialized mentoring services provided by a team of talented (and super cool) “Success Advisers.” Paulina says the mentoring from her Success Adviser, Barbra Scrivner, is a huge help, “When I first got here I was all over the place and did not know what to expect. And then meeting with Barbra was such a help because she was able to help guide me through everything that was a challenge here at ASU. What I really enjoy about meeting with Barbra is setting weekly goals and goals for the semester, which really helps me to stay on track and keep motivated. Barbra has been such a help to find the resources that I need, because right now I’m working on an honors projects because I’m in the Barrett Honors College as well.”
Paulina has been raised by her mother since the age of five and says education has always been important:
“Since I was young, it’s been understood that I would be attending college, so when I graduated from high school there wasn’t even a question about whether I would be going to college. My mom has always made sure that we take advantage of all the resources that we have and that we get the best education possible. My dad, so far as I know, did not finish high school. But, my mother put herself through school when she was younger, and she came from a family of eight – so, paying for college was up to her. She went to dental school and then specialized in orthodontics. She believes that education, and especially higher education, is a major part of everyone’s life.”
English is Paulina’s second language, and she says learning it was a challenge, “Oh, my goodness, yes! I remember first getting here and trying to speak it (English) and thinking, ‘yeah, this is going to be really hard to learn.’ I think it was so hard for me because I didn’t want to be here at first. Some of the things were really hard to learn and I remember someone saying, ‘it’s going to be a piece of cake.’ And, I got excited because I thought we were going to have cake, and there was no cake. I was lucky because I started Kindergarten here, while it was harder for my sister because she started the second grade here.”
Paulina explains that her grade school years were filled with sports, “In junior high school I played basketball and volleyball, and I absolutely loved those because they are team sports. And then in high school I continued with basketball for two years and then I did track and field, which I had never done before. I really enjoyed doing the shot put and discus, and I was somewhat good at it, and I loved doing that. Track and field was great because you can win individual medals while also helping your team. Currently, I don’t play sports competitively, but I do enjoy playing basketball recreationally on my church team with my friends.”
As for future travel, Paulina would like to explore her homeland, “I would love to go back (to Mexico) to learn more about my heritage, and more about my family roots. I would also like to see a lot more of the country, because sometimes people ask me about different places in Mexico when they learn that I was born there. I would love to more firsthand knowledge about the country.”
For middle and high school students considering college, Paulina offers some advice, “Do not give up! It can seem really scary reading about other people getting rejected from colleges and how college is nothing like you think it will be. But, do not give up because you can do it – if I can do it, anybody can do it, that’s what I always think. Also, apply, apply, and apply, for a lot of scholarships and apply to a lot of schools, so that you can have more options and opportunity.”
And the best part of college?
“I think the best part is learning more about myself. I’m still living in the same state as my mom and I’m only 30 minutes away from her house, but I feel a lot more independent because I have to make a lot more choices for myself. And, I’ve been able to learn more about myself in terms of what I like and what I don’t like in my thinking style, in my studying style, and different things like that.”
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 circumstances, your tax-deductible contribution can be made through the “Donate” button on the top of this page.