Experiencing culture shock and learning English as an immigrant moving from Guatemala at age 14 significantly impacted my life. Then, as a first-generation college student, not only did I have to learn how college worked, I also had to translate and educate my parents on the process. Elgin Community College's welcoming environment made this transition smoother.
My ECC journey began in high school when I joined Ballet Folklorico Huehuecoyotl. As a first-year student, I became active in student organizations like Phi Theta Kappa and the Organization of Latin American Students. I also joined TRiO, a program for traditionally underrepresented students, which provided me with the support and encouragement I needed to stay focused. In addition to being a student, I worked as a CNA. Being a front-line worker, working over 50 hours per week, and going to school was difficult, but if I was able to, I'm sure others can too!
My involvement at ECC and work/school balance helped me become a well-rounded leader. I learned to embrace the challenges faced as opportunities for growth. These experiences made me who I am today: A proud Latina immigrant, First Generation Student, and College Graduate!
Graduation itself is succeeding against the odds. Education is invaluable; it opens doors to a better future. My ECC education can't be bought nor stolen. I will forever be grateful to those that guided me and helped turn a dream into reality.
– Lisbeth Castillo, South Elgin
Associate in Science
Licensed Emergency Medical Technician
Read more graduate essays.