Glendale, AZ – Sarbith Aguilar is well on her way to achieving her goal of earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering, “I think that industrial engineering is a more open type of engineering because civil engineering is more about construction and things like that. But, industrial engineering is more about business, and you can work more in manufacturing and other areas. In my case, I want to be working in the manufacturing sector.”
Sarbith, age 20, graduated from Valley Vista High School in Surprise after her family emigrated from Guatemala during her final year of high school. Sarbith is currently attending Glendale Community College and is planning on transferring to Arizona State University to purse a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering, and possibly a Master’s Degree in Business.
Sarbith explains that her interest in engineering started early on in life, “I have wanted to be an industrial engineer since about the sixth grade, and I think my interest in it came from my family. My parents had a business in Guatemala, a truck business, and I watched them working in the business and dealing with different troubles. Seeing how they developed the business over time is what attracted me to engineering.”
Meanwhile, Sarbith is among the students who receive specialized mentoring services through College Success Arizona’s team of highly skilled “Success Advisers,” and its partnership with the EXCEL Program, which serves students at Glendale Community College and other community colleges. Sarbith’s Success Adviser is Matt Sotelo:
“Just being part of the Excel Program is helpful, because they basically teach you where to go when you don’t know how to get in touch with the universities and things like that, so they’ve helped me a lot. And, in the case of Matt Sotelo, he’s always asking me how I’m doing in my classes, and do you need any help. Matt also asks me about my goals and checks in to make sure that I’m achieving my goals. So, having Matt there helps me realize the things that I have to work on harder, but also helps me know about the things I’m going doing good at so far.”
Transitioning from Guatemala to the US, means learning a new language and culture, “It has been very difficult, just having to say goodbye to your country and everything you know and just come here, was hard. But, I was blessed because my family came with me, but it’s still been hard though having to learn the language and culture. Having to go to high school was really hard, but I think it’s just a process that you have to push yourself and decide what you want, and what you want to become – and, I think that in my case it made me push myself into what I wanted, and to get through everything, the difficult times.”
Sarbith adds that a lot of hard work over the past few years is paying off, “When you talk about speaking, writing and reading – if I compare myself right now to myself two or three years ago, I would say yes that I have improved a lot in my writing and reading, although I have a lot of room for improvement still. I feel so much more comfortable now when I have to speak to people or when I have to read a book, and these experiences have also allowed me to learn so much about life, and how to study.”
As is the case for many college students, parental encouragement can be critical for a student’s success, “My parents have helped to support me and push me through difficult times like when I was in high school I had a hard time with one of my English classes, and they just encouraged me to do the class and ultimately succeed in school.”
For middle and high school students considering their own college options, Sarbith offers the following advice, “I think that they should get in touch with Excel (Program) and these types of programs, and College Success Arizona too. Because, these types of programs can provide guidance and support, and they know all about the circumstances that we’re in being first-generation students.”
Beyond the books, Sarbith says, “I like sports and I play soccer, so that’s one of the things that I like to do when I have extra time. Also, one of my hobbies is to play the piano and sing, which helps to keep me relaxed.”
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.