Grad Stories (2017)
Isla Covarrubias learned the value of hard work at the age of five. She recalls her father taking her and her brother out to the fields in Mexico to pick fruit to stock the produce store her dad owned in their town. She was born in Orange County and at the age of two she moved with her father to Jalisco, Mexico. She returned to Orange County at the age of 11.
Later, Covarrubias started a family with her husband and moved to Michigan, but had to move back to California three years ago to escape from her abusive husband. She left her job, a home and a middle class lifestyle. She packed the essentials and with her three young children moved to Corona with her mother.
“I was embarrassed to ask for help and knew the only way to achieve personal success was to attend college. I found my way to Norco College through the CalWORKs program and am so glad I decided to pursue my education.”
She felt unsure of herself because she did not know the English language fluently and was shy to ask for help. For years, her husband told her that she was not good enough and she started to believe it. Covarrubias recalls how challenging it was for her to commit to school while raising three children, but she continued to push through.
“There were times I wanted to quit because I did not think I was meant for school. Thankfully, my counselors would talk me out of it and here I am setting a good example for my children. I want them to be proud of their mom.”
Covarrubias was dedicated to her studies and sought help from peers, mentors and professors to ensure she maintained good grades. She joined clubs, participated in special programs including EOPS/CARE, CalWORKs, SSS, Puente and the Honor’s program. Covarrubias co-founded the Norco Mustang Parent Organization. She serves as an advocate through organizations like the Hispanas Organization for Political Equality (HOPE) and has taken an active role by speaking to Assembly members at the state capitol. Recently, she was selected to receive the 2017 CalWORKs scholarship. In late March, she attended the CalWORKs Association Conference where she spoke to an audience of over 300 people about her struggles and success.
On June 8, 2017, Covarrubias graduated as a student of distinction from Norco College with four associate degrees. She was accepted to eight universities and committed to a full ride at UC Berkeley. She will be pursuing a degree in Sociology and hopes to become a college counselor. As of this writing, Isla and her family planned to relocate to Berkeley during the summer to begin her classes in fall.
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