An Open Heart and Mind

Dalia Soto-BeltranDalia Soto-Beltran immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 14 years old. A few years later, she empowered her mom to leave her father and moved to Los Angeles with her brother for new opportunities.

“It was very difficult and very tough because it was a quick decision. When she went through the divorce, she lost her job and we didn’t have much savings. We came to L.A. from San Diego with whatever fit in the car. ”

The family persevered and started their new life.

“My mom is very strong. She started working right away and even though it was from paycheck to paycheck, she kept going to ‘build the castle from rocks.’”

She started working at various retail and food service places to help support her family and her education. From Aeropostale to Fatburger in high school to California Pizza Kitchen while going to college.

“If I could do anything, I would help her. It’s very rewarding. At the end of the day, it feels good to help her because she doesn’t feel as much of a burden when she is doing all the payments.”

She came with her mom to explore SMC. “We just fell in love with the campus, the students, professors and the energy. I decided to enroll here because of the diversity and it felt like home for me.”

Despite her obstacles growing up, she is very involved at SMC. She has worked at the Career Services Center and the Athletics Department. “I’m helping others and also learning about myself.”

Dalia is also part of the Adelante program, which provides free tutoring and helpful career resources for SMC students. “I just feel like I’m part of a family.”

Sociology professor Rebecca Romo calls Dalia a cultural navigator who can weather different circumstances with ease because she finds ways to build relationships and resources to be successful.

“Dalia’s success inspires me because of the insurmountable obstacles that she has overcome, and students like her make me proud to teach at SMC.”

Dalia took her Sociology 1 class. “The instructors at SMC are amazing. They are humble but accomplished in their fields, knowledgeable and passionate. They instill passion in you.”

She has also taken modern and ballet dance classes at SMC. “I took so many dance classes here and I loved it! I considered being a dance major.”

Dalia has been dancing since she was six years old, practicing a range of dance forms from Mexican folklorico to jazz, contemporary and ballet.

This spring break, she took an opportunity to study abroad and earn school credit in South Korea.

“Korea was just beautiful. The people, the history, the culture, the smells — I loved it. I went to Korea because I knew it was different from my Mexican culture and the American culture I’ve been accustomed to now.”

She was a semi-finalist for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke transfer scholarship.

Dalia will transfer to UC Berkeley to major in media and communication studies this fall. She aspires to be a documentary filmmaker.

“I was inspired by professor Romo’s class to do documentaries that show what we sometimes ignore from society, these everyday questions about the way the world works.”

Dalia is proud to attend SMC because of everything it has to offer, from its diversity, beautiful campus, and opportunities.

“When you see the world with your heart and mind open, you can explore, grow and learn. We are always evolving.”

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