First-generation college student shares memories before AWC 2018 Commencement

Almost 75% of graduates are First-generation students

Yuma, AZ (May 14, 2018) – During her childhood, Yesenia Gonzalez Soto watched her parents leave home early each morning and come back late each night after working in the fields. They would often come home physically exhausted from the long days and strenuous labor required to do their jobs.

Yesenia, 22, can recall her parents encouraging her and her brothers to pursue higher education so that they could make something more of themselves— and that’s just what she did. She will be earning her Associate in Arts degree on Friday during Arizona Western College’s 2018 Commencement.

It hasn’t been an easy road to get here though. After struggling through her classes and losing her financial aid, she had to apply herself and take summer courses to get to where she is today. Through her hard work and dedication, she’s now one step closer to her goal, which is to enroll in AWC’s Radiologic Technology program in the spring.

“I would have to say that my family has been my inspiration,” said Yesenia. “I want to make them proud of all the work they have done dealing with me and taking care of me throughout the years. I also want them to be proud of everything I have accomplished.”

In addition to being a student, Yesenia is also a part of AWC’s Student Government Association as Vice President of Development.

“Although this position caused me great stress, it allowed me to create great connections on campus and around Yuma. This school has a lot of great clubs that people don’t know about and it was amazing to get to know them and to work with them,” she added.

About 66% of AWC’s student population is made up of first-generation college goers, which is the largest percentage of any other community college in Arizona and one of the highest percentages of community colleges in the U.S.

With 450 or more graduates expected to be a part of AWC’s 2018 Commencement, it’s estimated that about 300 of those students are first-generation college students.

Nicole Harral
Director of Admissions/Registrar
Arizona Western College
(928) 344-7600

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