Maria Alcaraz “The best thing about EOP&S is the moral support. With any problem, academically or in life, they have always been there.”

“I came from a situation where I felt a very personal need to succeed,” says Maria Alcaraz who is planning on teaching math in junior high school. “I’m a single parent and I feel the necessity of achievement for both myself and my daughter. When I was in high school, I got into algebra and geometry only because I liked it. You only need one year of math to graduate, and no teachers are there to inspire or encourage you in math and science. I want things to be different for my daughter. And as a teacher,” she continues, “I think I can make a great difference in the lives of a lot of young people who really need the help.”

Maria credits the EOP&S program at SMC with keeping her focused and able to balance the demands of work, study, and being a mother. “I’ve been successful, partly because of my commitment, but also because of the EOP&S counselors. And I’ve talked with them all,” she says. “They’re all different kinds of experts, and I’ll see one who is Latina because I’m comfortable talking with her about women’s issues. And I talk with Benny Blades who’s my mentor in the Adelante Program. He’s taught me a lot about Latino culture, history and our community in general. And for single parents,” she continues, “there’s the CARE Program which has paid for all my books. I’ve been through difficult times, and I’m still struggling,” says Maria, “but EOP&S has given me the kinds of opportunity I need to make it. I just have to keep a good attitude. And remember to laugh once in a while.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.