Graduate Stories: From Square One to the Finish Line
On Monday, December 13, 2021, an 11-year journey will come to an end when Yessica Marroquin walks the stage to accept her associate degree in paralegal studies from Austin Community College District (ACC).
Yessica immigrated to the United States from El Salvador at 16 years old. She immediately started working to support herself — leaving her education on the back burner. After having her first daughter, Yessica dreamed of doing more. She enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at ACC.
"I started in 2010 unsure of what to expect but determined to make a better life for myself and my daughter," says Yessica. "Now, I'm here at this moment watching everything come together. It's surreal"
Yessica enrolled in the college's High School Equivalency program and earned her HSE. She continued in ESOL and kept her eyes on moving forward and earning an associate degree.
She enrolled in ACC's College Prep program, gained more skills and confidence, and persisted into the Paralegal Studies program. Now, Yessica is preparing to graduate with a 4.0 GPA.
"I chose ACC because it had the supporting programs that helped me be ready to start my college education. Taking those first steps was critical. I think starting something that we wish to accomplish is the first and most important step. We have to keep moving forward if we want to achieve. It took me a long time to achieve my goal. But even moving slowly, I was working for it and that made the difference."
Yessica was selected to receive the fall 2021 Chancellor's Student Achievement Award for her achievements and leadership.
"I still can't believe it. For some people, an associate degree is little, but for me, it tastes like a Ph.D. I had to overcome a lot and be persistent just to graduate, and to do it with the highest honor that ACC grants was only a wild dream. I guess dreams come true if we work hard."
Now, as she prepares to transition from college to the workforce, Yessica's passion for learning continues. She plans to transfer to a four-year university and earn a bachelor's degree in legal studies.
ACC's commencement ceremony will be held 6 p.m. on Monday, December 6, 2021, at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. The college will recognize a record number of graduates and has invited all graduates from spring and fall 2020 and spring 2021 to walk the stage as well. To learn more, visit austincc.edu/commencement.