Priscilla Medina reflects on her Cal State LA journey

Priscilla Medina is a Peer Leader and a third-year student in the Communication Disorders Department at California State University, Los Angeles. Advising younger classmates at Cal State has strengthened Priscilla’s commitment to her career path as a speech-language pathologist and brought her to reflect on the importance of support and mentorship in her own college journey. Read Priscilla’s story below to learn about how her family and mentors have helped her overcome obstacles to pursue her higher education goals.

I am a first-generation student with both parents hailing from the country of El Salvador. My journey onto going to college was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. College closes the chapter of high school life onto something completely new. It was always my dream to enter university, and though my GPA wasn’t the highest, I knew that I wanted to take the risk of applying and not give up.

My parents are the most hardworking people, considering they came here at a young age in search for better opportunities for my siblings and me as well as themselves. Day after day they always told me and continue to tell me that no matter how hard things get, it’s always important to do what you can, and don’t give up, that anything is possible. They told me not to worry so much about the money, to trust my gut and apply and see where things will take me. So, I took their advice and decided to apply to all my dream universities, a total of four different Cal States and seven private universities. I wanted to make my parents, my family, and myself happy. My high school and the universities I applied to allowed me to partake in fee waivers for their application process.

Later, I started to receive all types of emails and phone calls of my being accepted to all the universities I truly wanted to attend. I got accepted to the out-of-state university of Calvin which was so surreal to me and was just a great feeling, as they sent me a sweater to congratulate me. In total I got accepted to seven of the 11 universities I applied to and got accepted to the two main schools I wanted to attend: Cal State LA and Azusa Pacific.

With all these results I truly felt on top of the world, because they made me realize that no matter where you come from, your skin color, or your background story, anyone can make it far. Cal State LA was my choice because it fit my needs perfectly: I didn’t have to pay out of pocket, and I didn’t even need to be far from my family. They are my absolute everything, and I am going to continue my education for my parents, who have sacrificed so much for my siblings and me to have a shot at something new. They taught us the hard work and dedication to continue moving forward. Without their always telling me and my siblings to work hard, I would not have made it this far.

With hard work and dedication, anyone will make it, because no matter what the world decides to put on us, we can’t just give up after the first try. You’re going to fail and make mistakes, but it’s how we patch those mistakes and remember what the long-term goal is that makes everyone’s story unique.

Coming to Cal State LA helped me in so many ways: having a great connection with coordinators of organizations helped me to get the job of Student Peer Leader. This is my first official job, and I am so blessed and grateful to say this is the job that is going down in the books for me for helping me to continue to work harder as a first-generation Latina student. I enjoy working with people of different background and ethnicities because this will strengthen my skills in working with people for my future career as a speech-language pathologist. This job as a Peer Leader opened so many doors for me to understand what it is to have patience when students don’t respond, to always be super communicative, to collaborate and work as a team with others, and not to be afraid to ask silly questions. My supervisors, Andrew, Elehna and Maria, are super helpful and approachable, and I consider them the most amazing people to work with as I continue to pursue being a leader for myself and for those around me.

After I ran a total of four LA Marathons of 26.2 miles from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica Pier, I knew nothing could stop me and that I needed to believe in myself just like the crowd was cheering for me. Audrey Hepburn’s quote truly inspired me: it says, “nothing is impossible for the word itself says I’m possible.” With hard work and dedication anyone can go far if they believe in themselves even when no one is watching. Regardless of what background you have, anything is possible. And again, special shoutout to my parents and family for teaching me to continue going and to always be self-driven.

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