Although Yesenia Navarro grew up with few material possessions, she always believed one catalyst for change was within her grasp: Education.
“Growing up in poverty only gives you one choice; we have the choice to thrive through the use of education.” said Navarro, a recent honors graduate of Southwestern Community College and a recipient of the 2018Western Carolina University Chancellor’s Achievement Award for the Outstanding Southwestern Community College Student.
In addition to this award, Navarro also received the National Society of Leadership and Success Award, the SCC Student of Distinction Award, and a scholarship from Student Support Services. She graduated from SCC in May with an associate in arts degree.
“I wish to accomplish more opportunities such as this award,” said Navarro, who lives in Cullowhee. “I want to serve as a bridge for my brothers and sister to do the same, but better. I want to keep my reputation as a role model for them. I also want for other students to have hope, and see that everything is possible if they just try.”
To be selected for this award, students must meet difficult requirements including maintaining at least a 3.75 GPA while at SCC. The scholarship is for $5,000 per year for two years, which will fund tuition and fees at WCU.
“This honor means hope, happiness and opportunity,” Navarro said. “I give hope to other students struggling to stay in school and those who follow me. … I have an opportunity to keep on educating myself through this honor. This award is a huge stepping stone. I want to climb higher to help clear the path for others who come behind me.”
Navarro credits SCC with preparing her for the next step in her educational journey.
“I was a very shy and quiet student, but I knew that I had to shake that shyness off, and give SCC an opportunity to shape me,” she said. “SCC prepared me to thrive and succeed at WCU. I can’t wait to start my journey there, and help other students who may need me throughout my journey at WCU.”
Navarro is attending WCU in the fall to receive her bachelor’s degree. She aspires to be a hospital administrator.
“I am thankful for those who believed in me,” she said. “I know with the help of my family, the university, and God, I can accomplish everything. Change your future! Make the right choice, because right choices pay more than bad choices.”
For more information about SCC and the programs it offers, visit www.southwesterncc.edu, call 828.339.4000, or stop by your nearest SCC location.