Avelina Rivero

How did you determine that college was the right path for you, and how did you decide where you would attend?

I knew that I did not want to continue the cycle of ignorance and poverty in my family, or end up like my friends, so I decided to apply. I decided to attend the University of Arizona because my counselor in high school told me that my tuition would be covered for four years and that my room and board would be covered in the first year. I knew that I could not allow this opportunity to go to waste.

What were the biggest challenges you faced — from enrollment to diploma — and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenges were financial costs and self doubt. Everything was expensive, and my parents were not able to support me, so I had to work three jobs to survive while taking six courses a semester. There were times when I did not have enough to eat. Balancing my work and school schedule was extremely stressful. However, I was able to endure by managing my time and money carefully. I did so well that I received several scholarships. I also joined the honors college so I could qualify for additional scholarships, then graduated with summa cum laude and honors.

Who inspired you, provided mentorship or otherwise helped you along the way?

The person that provided me mentorship and love throughout my academic journey was Dr. Melissa Delgado, associate professor in Family Studies and Human Development at the University of Arizona.

How did you meet people, make friends and get involved at your university?

I attended a lot of network opportunities and always reached out to my peers in classes.

Outside of your academic studies, what did college teach you about yourself? How did those lessons help you in your professional career?

College taught me that anything is possible as long as you work hard and don’t give up. The opportunities are endless and there are people who truly care about you and want to see you succeed. If I would have given up when things got hard during my undergraduate years, I would not be a second-year PhD student conducting and pursuing research that fascinates me.

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