A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month


By Kenzie Hock✌️ Indiana Commission for Higher Education

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I’ve never known a student who hasn’t second guessed whether they will get to college (let alone if they really want to go). There’s always that moment when you doubt whether you can afford it, if your grades are good enough or if you should even go because, “How am I supposed to already know what to major in?”  

It was the same story for Maria Sanchez—a Latina Hoosier student from México. With limited financial aid and a slipping GPA, Maria struggled with self-doubt, finding help and staying on track, but ultimately succeeded. She encourages you to push through and do the same.  

Maria was born in México and moved with her family to the United States when she was a toddler, with her family’s hope that she’d have better opportunities and a future education in America. But as factory workers, Maria’s parents barely made a living wage while living in constant fear of their documentation status. On top of that, the Sanchez family moved around so much that she had lived in five different states by the time she graduated high school. Maria regularly had to uproot her life every few years while also taking ESL classes AND learning a new language.  

“A lot of the time I couldn’t say goodbye to my friends before we moved. It was as much a surprise to me as it was to them that I was leaving,” she said.  

Even though her life was different than those of a lot of her classmates, for Maria college was always the dream. Encouraged by her parents’ hopes for her, she carried a lot of responsibility and expectation. She didn’t want to be financially stuck like her parents were. 

“My mom came home from work every day and I saw her hands. She was hurting and her shoulders were hurting. She used to ask me to massage her hands to help with the pain. That’s how I knew that I didn’t want to hurt like that every day just so that my family could survive,” Maria expressed. 

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Maria moved to Indiana in eighth grade and began to realize her dream to attend college would be harder than she thought. She learned she didn’t qualify for many scholarships and her family couldn’t afford to send her to school. As she faced these challenges, her grades started to slip.

“I had an average GPA, but that wasn’t enough to set me apart to receive much financial help,” she admitted. “When I learned I may not be able to go to school, I stopped trying. It got to a point where my teachers were worried about if I would graduate. I just thought, ‘What’s the point?’”  media pages

Despite the doubt, failure and difficulty of her situation, Maria’s story didn’t end there. Through lots of made-up homework, talks with teachers and long nights of studying, she re-established her commitment to herself, her passions and her heritage. After hitting what felt like her lowest low, Maria bounced back and rallied.  

“I got back up, filed the FAFSA and applied to scholarships and schools.”  

Maria was accepted into all the schools she applied to, received two scholarships and worked to save money to attend IU Kokomo. Despite her previous struggles, Maria is currently pursuing a degree in marketing.  

When asked what she is passionate about, Maria offers, 

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“I would like to see my people succeed and overcome challenges. I would like us to believe in ourselves more, and higher education can give us the confidence we need.”  

Doubt, difficulty and failure is a part of every student’s journey. Maria is just one example of someone who gained confidence through higher education. Thanks to her hard work, determination and the right resources, she will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2022. We are super proud of Maria and hope her story inspires you, too. 

To find resources to help you with your higher education goals, reach out to me on any of our social media platforms or visit learnmoreindiana.org.


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