As a child, Yesenia Diaz Lopez lived with her grandmother in Mexico. Her mom and the rest of her immediate family lived in the United States, and Yesenia was eager to join them here, which she did when she was 17. Not long after she arrived, she graduated from high school even as she struggled to learn English. And she began to think about attending college — something no one in her family had ever done.
She managed to navigate the financial-aid process, which, if you’ve ever tried to, well, God bless her. She enrolled at Delaware County Community College, starting with ESL classes, while she worked two jobs to pay her tuition and help the family out.
Hoping to make the process easier for those who came after her, she resurrected DCCC’s dormant Latinx Student Association. She served in student government and was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She became a peer mentor and a “student success ambassador,” charged with helping peers transition into college. She earned a 4.0 GPA. She got her associate’s degree in May and was chosen as a 2018 All-Pennsylvania student, which netted her a free ride to West Chester University, where she’s about to start working on her bachelor’s degree.
“What I love the most about the United States is that almost everybody has a chance to succeed in this country,” she says. Here’s to keeping it that way.