Grad Stories (2015)
Evelyn Almaraz calls herself a dreamer, a Puentista, a reinvention, a creator, and a giver of hope. Descriptions she earned and values.
“’Who are you?’ I’ve been asked this question more than once, and every time it causes me to pause and really think about it,” says the Norco College student who is headed to UC Berkeley in fall 2015.
Statistically speaking, Almaraz is part of a minority group—born of immigrants parents, the first in her family to attend college. While she embraces her heritage, she says is so much more than a statistic.
Almaraz wasn’t a high school standout; she was comfortable in the middle of the pack, earning a 2.9 GPA. Until she decided to reinvent herself.
“Having witnessed my parents’ struggles, I knew that life was not for me,” she says. She chose Norco College as her place of rebirth.
“I was a Puentista, a proud member of the Puente Program. Dr. Zina Chacon (Puente counselor) taught me how to dream, to aim higher and reach my potential. It was a potential that I didn’t even know existed.”
Following Chacon’s advice to “fake it until you make it,” Almaraz walked around campus telling everyone she was going to transfer to Cal. At the time it felt like an empty boast rather than a promise.
“My second year at Norco I created a future by literally practicing what I preached,” Almaraz explains. “I became a student worthy of applying even to UC Berkeley.
In this, her third year at Norco College, Almaraz is a giver of hope.
She was accepted into every UC to which she applied including Cal and UCLA. Her achievement is proof, not an outlier statistic in some database, she says. Proof that “coming from nothing, never implies our future is doomed. We are not victims, we are the baby turtles making our way to the ocean. We can make that journey.”
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