Unlocking Potential: My Journey to Higher Education

Azucena is a current 4th year student at UCLA majoring in Public Affairs and is interested in working in the public sector. Passionate about community development, Azucena has been involved in social equity efforts to advance and advocate for vulnerable populations. She is a development intern with Kid City, where she has helped produce fundraising communications. Azucena looks forward to continuing efforts for social development in the Bay Area.

My story began when I was seventeen years old. While sitting in a coffee shop, I filled out my first college application to Pasadena City College. I felt nervous and unsure, the idea of college terrified me to my core. I feared not being able to meet the requirements of academia and doubted that I would be able to succeed in a competitive environment. Reassured by my friend beside me, I pressed submit. That decision almost four years ago led me to experience immense personal growth in my journey through higher education. 

I attended PCC for two years, receiving not only an Associate’s degree in Sociology but also discovering the powerful community that came with community college. Before entering college, I was unsure what my journey would look like after high school. I knew I wanted to engage in community-building activities but had yet to discover what that would entail. Upon visiting Pasadena City College’s campus, I found its welcoming atmosphere and friendly advisors encouraging. I knew I had made the right decision. 

Filled with a diverse range of students, I was encouraged by the tenacity of my fellow peers. I found group projects, online discussions, and office hour sessions beneficial to my experience in understanding the various circumstances of students I met. Many students were dealing with a variety of issues, facing Covid-19 illnesses, juggling being a single parent, and the social isolation of an unprecedented time. While I was dealing with my struggles of attending college online, I found it motivating that despite the odds my classmates and I took steps to further our education. Throughout my journey, I often relied on my family's social and cultural capital to keep me going. My extended community of friends and family encouraged me to keep myself accountable for my goals. I relied on the women in my family who constantly declare “un dia a la vez” to remind themselves to push forward. 

I am now in my fourth year of college at UCLA and am graduating in June 2024! I was able to use the resources at my community college to successfully transfer to a four-year university. I am proud to say that although my journey did not follow a traditional pathway, I am proud of myself for pushing forward. I want to reach out to the Kid City community to remind them higher education is possible, to keep fighting, and to take one day at a time.