2023 PSD We Journey Together: Azusena Zamarripa

Portrait of Azusena Zamarripa, the 2023 Presidential Scholar of Distinction for the We Journey Together pathway, wearing regalia with Gateway Plaza and Student Center in the background.

Azusena always wanted to come to Cypress College. She enrolled here after earning her high school diploma at NOCE, where she finished the work she had left incomplete in high school. It took initiative to come back to school after leaving, and it was that same determination that kept her going through her classes at Cypress and now she’ll bring that fire to Cal Poly Pomona.
She credits her counselors and advisors with supporting her on her path to earning an associate degree in Hospitality Management, with special thanks to Dr. Therese Mosqueda-Ponce of the Puente Program.
“Thank you to the Puente Program for supporting me and motivating me. Here I am crossing the Puente bridge to my dream university.”

Please tell us about Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born and raised in Anaheim. I come from immigrant parents. I am first generation, the first one in my family to graduate from college. I am majoring in Hospitality Management. I went to Loara High School and in my junior year I was sent to Gilbert High School. Unfortunately, I did not graduate.

Years passed by and I decided to enroll myself at NOCE and work on completing my high school diploma. Summer 2021 I finally did it, I completed and received my high school diploma. I then asked myself if I was done or was I going to continue and attend college. August 2021, I decided to register myself at Cypress College. I had a small bump when trying to figure out what classes to take but I was very fortunate to meet a guardian angel that guided me through the process and here I am about to graduate and transfer to Cal Poly Pomona fall 2023.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am most passionate about helping and taking care of people. There is something in me that enjoys every moment of making people feel loved and happy. I love taking care of those around me. It is such a beautiful feeling.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

Not only did I choose Cypress College because it’s 10 minutes away from my house but growing up I remember always dreaming about going to Cypress College. There would be times when I would go to the Cypress College swap meet on the weekends and I would imagine myself walking through the campus going to my classes. Fast forward, and I am very fortunate to have selected Cypress College; not only did it become a second home but the campus that accepted me and gave me the opportunity to continue with my educational journey.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I have been involved in the Puente Program and EOPS here at Cypress College. Going back to August 2021, I thank Dr. Therese Mosqueda-Ponce for introducing me to the Puente Program. Being out for years and getting back in school seemed to be scary but with the guidance of Dr. Mosqueda-Ponce and the Puente Program, my journey here at Cypress College was beyond amazing. The Puente Program made me realize that it is never too late to go to school. The Puente Program is not only a program but a family that supports and motivate one another. Visiting different university campuses, meeting with the counselors, and learning all the valuable information made me feel ambitious about transferring to the university.

If I could go back 10 years I would have never imagined of graduating from college and better yet transfer to the university. EOPS gave me that opportunity to be part of their program, and the guidance of my counselors Jackie and Eva was extremely helpful and I appreciate everything that the program offered me.

Share a memorable event or experience while you’ve been a Cypress College

A memorable event that I want to share is being nominated and selected as one of Every Student Succeeding Award. Dr. Mosqueda-Ponce shared my story and, at first, I felt embarrassed because no one really knew about me and my story but there is a reason and purpose to why it happened. I will forever keep this memory in my heart and thank each one that took their time to read and select my story.

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?

Dr. Mosqueda-Ponce, Dr. Alejandro Omidsalar, Dr. JoAnna Schilling, my mentor Jeanette Jones, Lisa Clark, Nicole Ledesma, my counselors Jeannie Mitsch, Eva Palomares, and Jacky Rangel, Lela Beck and all my professors and everyone who supported me throughout my journey here at Cypress College. Without their support I would not be who I am today.

How has Cypress College supported you throughout your time at the college?

Cypress College supported me throughout my time here at the college with all the resources that they provided. Starting off with Cypress College Foundation and Financial Aid. It was a really great help, and I did not have to worry about paying tuition.

Thank you EOPS for all the help and the book grants at the start of the semester; they helped when purchasing my textbooks at the start of each semester.

Thank you to the Puente Program for supporting me and motivating me here I am crossing the Puente bridge to my dream university.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

My immediate plans after completing my studies at Cypress College will be transferring to Cal Poly Pomona fall 2023 and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My long-term goal is to own a business of my own. I want to have my own restaurant where my family can be part of it and grow this goal of mine together. I also want to pursue my master’s degree in Sociology and hopefully be a counselor here at Cypress College and guide students the way my amazing counselors guided me.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of myself, for all the hard work and dedication. My journey has not been easy, but I managed to keep myself together. While working two jobs and being a full-time student, I managed to complete my degree in two years. The sweat and tears were all worth it. I still cannot believe what I have been accomplishing. Eighteen-year-old Azusena is proud of you! Everything happens for a reason and only God knows our purpose.

What bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

The bit of advice that I give current and future students is to always give it your best. There are going to be times where you are going to want to give up, but you must remind yourself how bad you really want it. Stressing yourself is not going to get you anywhere. I was once that student who did not know what I was doing, and my first instinct was to quit. Quitting is not an option when you want to accomplish your goals. Do not give up and do not let people’s opinions affect you. Ask for help, get to know your professors.

Is there anyone in particular you’d like to thank?

I want to thank Dr. Mosqueda-Ponce who I will forever say that she is my angel sent from heaven for believing in me and guiding me through the correct path. I was once a stranger that became her student. Thanks to her support and motivation I am here today, living a moment that I never imagined that would happen. I would also like to thank my family, friends, and everyone that was by my side in this beautiful journey.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you, Cypress College, for giving me the opportunity of believing in myself once again. For meeting the greatest people and giving me another family. Thank you for always making me feel welcomed and safe at our campus. I will forever be eternally thankful, grateful, and blessed. Buen Cypress! We Took This Journey Together.