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Student Success: From Vista Adult School to College

How Education Changed the Life of a Single Mother and Her Daughter  

When Guadalupe Martinez was faced with the difficult decision of staying in Mexico with her family or returning home to the United States, her desire to find a better life for her young daughter necessitated the move back to California.   

Born in California to Mexican parents, Guadalupe moved with her family to Mexico when she was 12 years old. Homesick, missing her American friends and nervous for a new start, she never felt like she was able to fit in with her new classmates due to her lack of knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican culture. She completed many of her high school classes but, after meeting her soon-to-be husband, she ultimately dropped out of school to start a family. 

Young, unemployed, and pregnant, soon after she and her husband welcomed their new-born daughter, Guadalupe fell victim to spousal abuse.  Knowing she needed to leave the relationship, she was fearful she wouldn’t be able to provide for her daughter on her on.  But she knew there were greater opportunities if she moved back to the United States. 

“When I moved back to the U.S., my daughter and I went through a very difficult time,” says Guadalupe. “But, by moving I knew that I was one step closer to being able to someday provide for her on my own. I knew I needed to go back to school to make that happen.”

After leaving her husband and relocating with her daughter to Vista, Guadalupe learned about Vista Adult School’s high school diploma program from a friend and decided to take a leap of faith and give her education another shot. She enrolled in the program in 2018 with the help of VAS counselor Celina Mendoza and, to her surprise, found that she only needed a few more credits to earn her high school diploma due to credits previously earned from her high school in Mexico. 

“Everyone was so nice and so kind to me during my time at Vista Adult School,” says Guadalupe. “When I graduated from the program in March of 2019, I couldn’t believe that I had accomplished one of my major life goals in such a short amount of time.”

Now, with her diploma in-hand a fresh start in front of her, Guadalupe had a new lease on life. She turned to her counselor Celina Mendoza once again to seek guidance for her next chapter. After reviewing several career and education options together, Guadalupe applied to Palomar College to work toward her new goal of earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. 

“Growing up as a little girl, I would travel often with my family back and forth to Mexico by way of Tijuana,” she said.  “I told my parents back then that I wanted to be a U.S. Customs Border Patrol Officer, and I realized to this day, that dream was still very real for me.” 

Actively maintaining a 4.00 GPA, Guadalupe has been excelling as a full-time student at Palomar College and is getting ready to submit her application to transfer to Cal State San Marcos next year to enroll in their criminal justice program.  Even with a busy school schedule, she still manages to prioritize helping her daughter with her homework and cheering her on at her soccer games. 

“To this day, I credit my daughter and Vista Adult School for inspiring me to succeed in school and earn my bachelor’s degree,” says Guadalupe. “I’m going to be very, very proud of myself when that day comes.”