Maria Gallegos “I’m the first college student in my family, so I think my parents and my brothers are all really proud of me.”

Maria Gallegos has worked incessantly for more than a year to prepare herself for entrance into SMC’s demanding Nursing Program. “I’m taking a lot of science and math, and when I get my anatomy and physiology done, I’ll be ready to get into the program next spring.” Maria says that many of her teachers have inspired her by their willingness to help. “I’ve had some problems with my anatomy class and my professor, Denise Cavener, has done everything she can to help me. She’s a great professor,” continues Maria. “She’s tough, but she’s really good.”

When her nose isn’t buried in a science textbook, Maria will often be found at work on the computer in the Latino Center. “I work there 10 hours a week, helping with whatever I can,” she says. Though she hasn’t had formal computer training yet, she reports, “a lot of the students are teaching me the uses of computers. And once I have most of my science classes taken care of, I can go to work learning about everything computers can do.” But at the moment, preparing for the Cinco de Mayo celebration at SMC was very much on Maria’s mind. “I’m an active member of MEChA,” she says, “and we’ve got a big celebration that we’re planning for the school this year.”

Maria is very proud of her Latina heritage and the work that she does for her community through the Latino Center. “But I’m most proud of being the first in my family to graduate from high school,” she says. “And when I’m finished with my nursing studies, I’ll only be about 23. And I’ll still have an awful lot of life ahead of me.”

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