My story begins in a small Brazilian town under the shadow of a past dictatorship. Growing up, I witnessed the struggle for freedom and the economic hardships that affected my family. However, amid these challenges, a desire to learn and a yearning for a better future sparked within me. Fueled by my mother’s unwavering spirit and love of languages and the arts, I dreamed of becoming a jazz musician and traveling the world. But the limitations of my hometown forced me to take a different trajectory in broadcast media.

Life, however, rarely follows a straight path. Immigration to the U.S. brought its own set of challenges: a new language, a new culture, and the daunting task of rebuilding. Through sheer grit, I navigated these challenges, yet a piece of me remained unfulfilled. The longing for education, for reigniting my dreams, grew stronger.

Years later I found myself at a crossroads. As a single mother, the decision to return to school and attend a community college was both humbling and empowering. Stepping back into academia after years was daunting, but the supportive environment at Harold Washington College became my lifeline. High quality professors became inspiring mentors and classmates turned into a source of encouragement. Witnessing others on similar journeys fueled my own resilience. The diverse student body shattered preconceived notions and honed my communication skills. I had a newfound confidence that transcended academics and empowered me in all aspects of life. The flexible course schedule allowed me to explore my passion through introductory music courses.

Here’s the best advice I can offer to fellow students: never give up and seek support. City Colleges is here for you. This school is full of high-quality professionals who are passionate about student success. Talk to your professors, connect with your advisor, and tap into the college’s amazing resources. From mental health counseling to career services, there’s support for every step of your journey. City College offers so much more than academics. Explore the clubs, attend events, and connect with classmates from diverse backgrounds. While studying is crucial, don’t forget to enjoy your time at City Colleges of Chicago.

Now that I have graduated with my Associate of Arts, I have a renewed sense of agency. I’m also setting a positive example for my son by demonstrating the power of perseverance and lifelong learning.  Graduating from community college is a springboard to a brighter future. Now I can see promising possibilities before me and I am ready to take flight, fueled by the transformative power of education.