Carmen Zavala

Escondido Adult School

When Carmen Zavala was 12 years old in Guanajuato, Mexico, her dream and goal was to become an educated person. The dream was shattered when her father told her she would not be continuing her education because "women do not need to be educated. They get married and have children."

In 1989 Carmen married her childhood sweetheart and moved to the United States. They first settled in Fresno, but promised work did not materialize. With two children, they left Fresno in 1994 and moved to San Diego. They set up their home in a tiny trailer while they both looked for work.

Her husband, Martin, found work fairly quickly, but for Carmen the job search was not as productive. Rather than sit around, she began to volunteer with different agencies in the county. First she worked with Head Start. Then, in 1996, after enrolling in Escondido Adult School, she began to volunteer in the school's childcare center and citizenship class. She helped students improve their English skills while preparing to become citizens.

Carmen was a successful student in Escondido Adult School's ESL and GED programs. Her success inspired confidence, and with encouragement from her teachers and a special scholarship, Carmen enrolled in Palomar College in San Marcos. A husband and two children to care for meant studying into the early morning hours, but she was taking another step toward realizing her dream. As busy as she was, Carmen still found time to return to the adult school and tutor students who were working to pass the GED, and with support from her family "who were willing to eat lots of scrambled eggs," she was able to complete her two year program at Palomar College.

This was only the beginning of Carmen's education. Applying to several universities, she was finally accepted at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). The family moved into student housing on the UCSD campus in September 2001, and in June 2005, Carmen graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Management Science.

Carmen currently is a personal banker for Bank of America. Together with her husband, she bought a condo in north San Diego, and continues to make plans for more education. Next, she plans to return to school and pursue a Master's degree with the goal of becoming an investment counselor.

Carmen realized her dream and reached her goal. She still visits Escondido Adult School, and in 2005 gave an inspirational speech at the school's award and promotion ceremony. Afterward, a student approached telling her that she had inspired him to pursue his education. He had just passed the GED tests.

"I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given in this great country," Carmen summarizes, "I have learned to love it and respect it. Not only that, but I am also grateful for the opportunity to have met such wonderful, dedicated, and special teachers at the Escondido Adult School, because I know that without their kind and wise teachings, I might not have done it. Finally, my husband's support was my greatest motivation."I know that without their kind and wise teachings, I might not have done it. Finally, my husband's support was my greatest motivation."

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