It was always Marisol Ortiz’s dream to go to college. Growing up, education was always a priority; Marisol’s mother was a single parent and worked a factory job just to be able to afford to send her two daughters to a Catholic school.
Life got in the way when Marisol started working right out of high school, and then she began a family of her own. When her kids were teenagers she made the decision to enroll in community college, graduating in 2013. It didn’t take long for Marisol to set her sights on Peirce so that she could earn her bachelor’s. She heard about the school from a friend who had already attended, and was eager to start.
“Starting [at] Peirce was the best thing I’ve ever done!” Marisol exclaimed. “You guys make it absolutely possible for working adults and mothers to pursue our life long dreams.”
Even though her older two children were grown by the time she enrolled at Peirce, she still had to juggle the demands of being a working mother to her youngest child while attending school. Taking online classes helped make things much more manageable.
"It’s not impossible and absolutely doable"
“I was able to [take classes] online, which was fabulous. One of my biggest fears was that I wouldn’t be able to engage with my professors as much online, but I never felt that way; the discussion board made me feel like I was right there. You never feel disconnected from the professors. Recently, I sent my professor, Jim Issel, a personal e-mail. My mother and father were both hospitalized at the same time, and he would e-mail me to ask how I was doing and encourage me. His words empowered me to do my homework [so I could] catch up to make it through the semester.”
Since she had already taken classes at a different school, Marisol was concerned about having her credits transfer. But the credit transfer process at Peirce was easy, and she didn’t have to worry about retaking classes. Her advisor helped her develop an efficient registration plan that ensured she was only taking classes that she truly needed. Marisol also had an excellent support network when she was at Peirce. Her boss and husband encouraged her every step of the way, and she made some friends in her classes.
Despite having 32 years of experience in her field and already having a leadership role at work, she still learned skills that proved to be invaluable in the workplace during her time in school. The group projects she participated in improved her communication skills and made her more trusting.
When Marisol graduated in June of 2016, years of hard work had finally come together. She has so many cherished memories from that day.
“Seeing all of the faculty members cheering us as we were walking into the auditorium was overwhelming I was shivering with excitement. I had goosebumps,” Marisol recalled. “Hearing my kids yell, ‘That’s my mom!’ while I crossed the commencement stage was amazing. My CEO called to congratulate me on earning my degree – and it meant the world to me. For the first time, I was like “I did it!”
Marisol encourages new Peirce students to commit to their studies. She knows that once you have the drive to do something, anything is possible.
“You have to be willing to focus, especially when taking classes online. Manage your time wisely, so that you are able to do the work... Take advantage of the resources at Peirce (Walker Center, Library, etc.) It’s not impossible and absolutely doable.”