(Pictured: Maricela and her children Araceli and Emmanuel)
What are your children’s ages and how old are they?
My daughter Araceli is 8 and my son Emmanuel is 1.
What degree did you earn and when?
I earned my Associate’s of Applied Science from NWACC in 2018. I am currently the lead pharmacy technician at Springwoods Behavioral Health. I started out there as a PRN and quickly advanced to lead technician.
What has been the most rewarding thing about having a degree? 
The most rewarding would be that I am able to set the example for my younger siblings and my kids. I enjoy seeing my daughter’s face light up with to see the degrees I have earned. My next one will hopefully be my doctorates degree in pharmacology in a few years!
What or who kept you motivated during your time as an SPSF scholarship recipient? How did SPSF NWA contribute to that motivation?
Definitely my family, my daughter, the alumni association and the staff at SPSF NWA! Getting the motivational letters and the checkups were amazing, they helped me keep things in perspective. I loved all the different options that we were given, such as tutoring or help with time management.
How did your pursuit of a college education influence your children or other family members?
I am first generation Mexican/American and the first in my family to go to college and graduate with a degree. I hope to have inspired my younger siblings– one is currently in college pursuing her degree in accounting and my youngest sister is in junior high school. I try to help them keep on track  with their studies. 
What has changed most for you and your family now that you are no longer in school? 
The free time I have now means that I can spend more time with my kids.
What was the most beneficial part of being a SPSF NWA scholarship recipient?             
For me, the most beneficial part is having an amazing network of men and women who have gone, or are going through, what I have– being a single parent trying to raise their children while going to school and working full-time. Of course the scholarship money helped a lot, but also the emotional support that was given was life-changing. At this point, I am a part of the alumni association and its great seeing the rest of the alumni and keeping up with each other.
What does Araceli want to be when she grows up?          
She switches between wanting to be a firefighter to working with her Tia Oji in the office. (my sister works in an accounting office while she’s going to school to get her license.)
What is your favorite SPSF NWA memory or activity (events, socials, fundraisers, etc.)? 
My favorite was the ice cream social over the summer when our kiddos would get a check to get their school supplies. Araceli loved going and getting wet and swim with everyone.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment since completing your degree?
Getting to the job that I have now. It is different from retail pharmacy that I am used to, but it is the work place that I’ve always dreamed of. I am not 30+ minutes away from home every day anymore, I am 10 minutes away from home, I work 8:30 to 4 weekdays and off weekends. It’s the dream job for me at this point and I’m learning and being pushed every day.
Looking back, was there one skill that you learned that was particularly useful, either in college or in the professional world?
Establishing which way I learn the best was useful. I know that may sound a little odd, but different people learn by different styles. I am very hands-on and visual, I have to be the one working the math problem or typing the codes in order to learn and take notes as I go. I learned this about myself in school and I apply and use it every day at work.
What advice would you give someone desiring to go back to school/current recipient (think general advice or a quote you live by)?
The first step is always the hardest, take the leap, it is worth it! There is a network of people rooting for you.
What is something that has surprised you since graduating?
How caring SPSF NWA is even after we have graduated! I love that we as alumni can continue our journey with SPSF NWA alongside us.