Rose-Head-ShotMy name is Rose Vazquez, and I first joined MOSTE in 2001 as a 6th grader at Henry Clay MS. I heard about MOSTE in my English class. The program sounded interesting so I decided to apply and to my delight I was accepted. I didn’t know this at the time but the MOSTE program would forever change my life.

As a middle school student in MOSTE, I was exposed to the significance of going to college and the impact a college degree would have on my life. MOSTE workshops, mentors, and speakers provided information about how to get into college, which I didn’t otherwise receive at home. Coming from a low income family, my parents’ primary focus was to support the family. As a result there were never any discussions about or plans for me to go to college. MOSTE filled this gap and provided the knowledge and support I needed to make college an attainable goal.

One of my most memorable moments in the MOSTE program was when I spoke at the annual Lanterns event. I was asked to speak about my experiences in MOSTE and the impact the program had had on me thus far. It was an honor to be chosen to speak and the opportunity further boosted my confidence in myself to attend college and be successful. Another memorable moment was when we visited UCLA. This tour was special because it was the first time I had visited a college campus. This visit truly impacted my perception of college by making it more concrete and real. I was finally able to visualize myself on a campus as a student.

My mentor Barbara Hensleigh further cultivated my desire to pursue college. She taught me that with determination anything was possible. Also, that possessing a college degree was key to creating a better life for myself. She provided support, encouragement, and opened up numerous opportunities for me. For example, she made it possible for me to study abroad for a year in Belgium, during my junior year of high school. My year abroad was amazing; I was able to travel to different countries and meet people from all over the world. My year abroad opened my eyes to how much the world had to offer and how much I could also give back. Needless to say college became a priority for me; there was no doubt in my mind that I would go.

When I was accepted into UC Santa Barbara I was so excited. The beautiful campus and city were perfect. My first year was challenging but with Barbara’s support I was able to succeed. During my Sophomore year, I began to volunteer with MOSTE and provide support for current mentees. This was a rewarding experience because I was able to share my knowledge with future college students. After four years, I graduated with a BA in Sociology and Spanish. At this point, I knew that my next step would be graduate school.

I’m now in graduate school at the University of Southern California studying Social Work. Barbara continues to support my academic career as I prepare to graduate in May of 2014. I have also deepened my involvement in MOSTE as a college success coordinator for the Post MOSTE students. It’s been gratifying to be able give some of the younger students in the program college tips. Looking ahead to this spring, I’m planning to have the opportunity to travel to India on a field work assignment.

MOSTE has been one of the most influential programs in my life. As a result I have been the first in my family to graduate from high school, go to college, and earn a master’s degree. I attribute a significant portion of my success to the MOSTE program, the great female role models I was exposed to, and my mentor Barbara. More than ever, Barbara is a great part of my life. As I always tell others when speaking of Barbara, “I was blessed to have two mothers.”

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