Claudia Gonzalez wanted to be a role model for her young niece. That desire has led to the pursuit of a profession where countless young people will count on her.
“I want to be a high school counselor,” said Gonzalez. “I figured being in the school system would be a great job for me to have if I want to help troubled youth. I want to work at a lower income high school to help minorities and lower income families.”
Gonzalez’s path wasn’t always as clear. The Des Moines, Iowa, native was once in danger of not graduating from high school. That all changed when her father died at the beginning of her junior year of high school. She decided to have a positive impact of her family and become the first member to graduate from college. She accomplished the feat in May 2014.
“It was amazing and incredible (to walk across stage.). All of my family was there. I hugged my mom for five minutes straight. My little niece was there, and she was already talking about going to college.”
The idea that her niece is already considering attending college solidified her career path and decision to attend the University of Northern Iowa.
“It is really reassuring that I know that I am going into the right career. It makes me realize that if I can have an impact on my niece, I can have an impact on other youth in high schools. It is nice to have that impact.”
Her time at UNI was aided by scholarship support. Because of generous donations, Gonzalez was able to focus on her studies and participate in organizations such as Hispanic Latino Student Union, Campus Activities Board, Ethnic Student Promoters and the Alpha Phi sorority.
“It's an honor to receive help and support from people that you don't really know. My college experience has been great, and I know it is because of the scholarships I received. It is really appreciated and has made my college career an unforgettable one.”
Gonzalez, who spent two years at UNI after transferring from Des Moines Area Community College, is currently attending grad school within the School Counseling department at the University of Northern Iowa.
“I got really involved at UNI and fell in love with the campus during my two years here. I realized I wanted to be here at UNI still because two years wasn't enough.”
If you want to help provide scholarship to students like Claudia, please visit http://www.uni-foundation.org/.