CYProud: Geraldine Lopez
Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2021.
Geraldine chose Cypress College at a time in her life when she felt out of options. She had endured two abusive relationships and had been working hard to raise her children well. She realized she wanted to make a change. Geraldine says deciding to go to Cypress was the best decision, because it’s where she fell in love with Sociology. Now, she is dedicating her life to helping people and becoming a counselor, so she can aid others who might feel as if they, too, are out of options.
Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?
I was born in Fountain Valley, California. We were not there for long; my mother decided that we return back to Mexico when I was a year old. I grew up and studied in Mexico until I graduated from high school. At the age of 18, I decided to move to California to learn English and prepare myself educationally. I have always known that I wanted to work with helping people. Due to bad decisions and immaturity, sadly, I could not achieve my goals. It took me 10 years to return to my education. During those 10 years, I became the mother of a beautiful boy and a girl, and I survived two abusive relationships. However, I never quit my dreams of getting back to where I started. Still, this time it was clear because I wanted to dedicate myself to studying Sociology and become a counselor.
What are you most passionate about? Why?
I am passionate about justice, freedom of thought, helping, and guiding people. I believe that my personal experiences have motivated me to help people who suffer from different types of abuse in their lifetime. I want to encourage and guide people to a much better place. For me, it is easy to have empathy when a person approaches to talk about an event in their life. I want to be able to return to the community that helped me get to where I am, so I can do the same and help future generations become successful.
Why did you choose Cypress College?
I chose Cypress College because I had nowhere to turn to, and I did not have any knowledge of schools that would be good for me. It wasn’t until I met a counselor at the Anaheim campus who recommended that I go to Cypress College. I took his word for it and decided to give it a go, and in the long run, it has contributed to my success. I believe that having decided to go to Cypress was the best decision because I discovered my passion for Sociology.
I was fortunate to have been involved and experienced working at Cypress as a work-study student. This atmosphere helped me define what path I wanted to take for my career. I love interacting with other students and informing them of new opportunities within the campus.
Share a memorable event or experience while you’ve been a Cypress College student.
I had the opportunity to participate in a Folklorico dance for heritage month when I was in Cypress professor Maha Afra’s class. It was a great experience in front of several students. Having Cypress make this event to represent my heritage will be something I cherish most.
Who are the faculty and staff (in your major, an academic or other support program, etc.) who have helped you get where you are today?
During my stay at Cypress, I was fortunate to be part of EOPS, CARE, and CalWorks programs. Thanks to their support and their constant guides and many workshops and seminars, they helped me to be an organized, sociable, outstanding student. Many great people such as Alan Reza from EOPS, Christina Barrios and Briceyda Maldonado from CalWorks, Lili Perez from CARE. Thank you for your advice and for listening to my requests during my time at Cypress. Above all thank you for believing in me, when I could not.
How has Cypress College supported you throughout your time at the college?
Throughout my educational journey at Cypress I have always felt supported by various members of the school in order to achieve my goals. EOPS, LRC, and excellent professors who were always willing to help me achieve my goals.
What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?
I will be transferring this fall 2021 to UC Riverside to continue my studies and my journey into studying social sciences.
What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?
I intend to go for a bachelor’s degree and perhaps a master’s degree at UC Riverside. I aspire to become a counselor in the student environment, and to be able to help students, who like me once felt overwhelmed between classes and personal situations. Moreover, I am also open to any opportunity that brings growth to my person.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud to be a student, mother, first generation in college, and a second-language student. Despite adversity, I always had the strength, discipline, and spirit to complete this cycle at Cypress. I am also proud that I graduated with honors, and I am the first in my family to earn an associate degree.
What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?
My advice to students is not to be discouraged from asking for assistance of any kind. Cypress has an excellent team of counselors, professors, and programs to ensure that you are successful on your journey.
How have you been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic? What has gotten you through and/or what have you learned from it?
The impact of this pandemic was somewhat chaotic. I was not prepared for online classes. In fact, I did not feel capable of this new reality. I had to relocate with my family to another county, and have to be with my children in the same room, all three of them taking classes at the same time. After a while my children and I began to accept the situation and adapt to the new environment. I discovered that I am a person with discipline and consistency in my school and family work. Now I trust more in myself and what I can achieve.
Is there anyone in particular you’d like to thank?
I would like to thank my counselors Alan Reza and Christina Barrios for believing in me at all times, even when I doubted my potential. I also thank my supervisors at EOPS for giving me the opportunity to learn from them in the workplace. Also to my family and especially my cousins Miguel, Jennifer, and Ernesto who were always supporting me from the first day in Cypress.
I would like to share with my fellow Cypress colleagues and future students, do not be discouraged by age, different languages, or different living situations. It is never too late to learn and achieve something in life. Time never stops, but it is up to you to decide how to manage that time.