Nancy Esparza, age 54, a Tempe resident, began taking classes in 2014 along with her two daughters, but had to stop taking classes in 2016 to work full time. When her son, Vicente Esparza Ortiz, started attending MCC, he encouraged her to go back.
"He helped me pay for classes and kept pushing me to complete my degree so we could graduate together," Nancy said.
Vicente, a former Student Body President at MCC and now an Empowerment Coordinator at Paz De Cristo Community Center, said he encouraged his mother to attend college because he knew he could help her graduate if she was willing to put in the work.
"She did exactly that," said Vicente, 22, of Mesa. "She kept mentioning for several years that she wanted to return to school and this last year I gave her no option. Through personal scholarships/grants I was able to contribute to my mother’s tuition, books, laptop, etc."
Nancy said the biggest blow that impeded her progress was overcoming financial difficulties. With an annual earning far below the poverty line, finances have always been the first thought on her mind. However, she continued to push to get her education, knowing it would improve the lives of her family.
Her career goal is to become a hospital social worker. She plans to transfer to the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at ASU to complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
"I’ve been through quite a bit and that’s why I’ve chosen social work as a career goal," she said. "I want to help people who are going through the same challenges I’ve gone through."
While attending MCC, Nancy said her math professor, Melina Priewe, science professor, Carla Brubaker, and CS20 professor, Daniel Reeves, were all very encouraging.
"I just think it’s amazing how much help there is with what you need," Nancy said. "I can’t say I’ve had a teacher I haven’t liked. I like all they do, aside from teaching, including emotional encouragement and technical support."
Vicente plans to transfer to the Thunderbird School of Global Management to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Management.
"Upon graduation I plan to open a family-owned business in the nonprofit sector to help low-income individuals with financial planning/Investments, attending college, and entering the workforce," he said.
Vicente said he and his mother have been through so much together and persevered even in the worst of circumstances.
"We've been homeless together, suffered from food insecurity together, but most importantly we continued fighting together. All my success is because of my mother always believing in me even at times when it seemed time to give up. I think we gave each other the push we both didn’t know we needed. Seeing her enroll and earn the President's List last semester inspired me and when I was elected as the 2021-22 Student Body President at MCC, I know it inspired her."
Vicente closes with, "I am forever grateful for my successes and failures at MCC because the lessons I learned have helped me help other students not make the same mistakes I did. In this case, it was my amazing Mother! I am beyond proud of her!"