Ursula (right) and her daughter, Alyson (left) are both SEA students.
Throughout my educational career I have overcome many personal challenges to get to where I am now. Growing up in Peru, I was raised with the understanding that my role as a woman was to become a wife and mother. I was never introduced to educational or career opportunities. This carried over into my life in the United States. For over 10 years, I embraced this role and raised my family. I would work odd jobs as a house cleaner, at fast-food restaurants, as a dish washer, and other menial labor jobs. As an immigrant without an American education, these were the only jobs available to me. In these positions, I faced harassment and was forced to deal with any treatment that I received, regardless of how inappropriate it was. I had no power and simply needed the jobs to pay my bills. As I moved from job to job, I always knew I wanted something more for myself, but I did not know where to begin.
Today, six years from the day I made the decision to enroll in school, I have completed the English for Speakers of Other Languages (EOSL) program, earned my general education degree (GED), graduated from Green River College with an Associate’s Degree in Business, and will graduate in a year from UW Tacoma with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business.
Seattle Education Access has been a big support for me throughout this journey. I met Jeff through the Master Achiever’s Center at Green River in 2013, and we have been working together ever since. SEA paid for my GED tests; supported me with financial aid applications; helped me decide on my major; connected me to tutoring support; provided scholarships to help me pay for classes, books, and supplies; and served as a sounding board when I needed to vent my frustrations.
Then, in 2015, I was able to enroll my daughter with SEA when she started at Green River. Alyson saw me struggling, but somehow finding a way to succeed, and this inspired her to pursue a degree. She also worked closely with Jeff at Seattle Education Access and was able to earn an Associate’s Degree and transfer to UW Tacoma this fall.
SEA has always been there whenever we needed support. Whether it was filling out paperwork, editing scholarship applications, or discussing personal struggles, we knew we had someone to turn to. They were like a second family to my daughter and me and provided guidance through a lot of difficult times. I think I would have given up without the support provided through SEA, and I am so proud of where we are now and where we are headed.