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When Making a Difference Is the Driving Factor

Xochitl takes a break from studying with her two boys in the Family Reading Room.

Xochitl has just finished two bachelor degrees – one in Ethnic Studies and one in Social Work. And she’s wasting no time. She’s now enrolled in graduate school and plans to finish her masters in social work in one year. “I know for sure that I want to work with children,” explains Xochitl. “It was while I was working with kids in the foster care system that I realized that I could make a difference for these kids.”

Why is Xochitl so clear about her life path? Prior to starting at the U, she was employed at a non-profit organization, working with autistic and disabled children. Xochitl was promoted four times in two years. She started as a Direct Support Professional and ended with Program Coordinator. “I realized that I could be that foundational person in a child’s life – the one who really cares for them and helps them. That’s what made me love the job.”

One day a teenager she was working with asked her a pointed question. “He asked me if I really could help him, could I make serious decisions that would impact his life. It was at that moment I knew that I needed to go back to college and get my degree in social work.”

“When I came back to the U in 2019 I was working full time and was doing online and evening classes. Because I had two little boys at home, I vowed to myself to not be an absent mom. I had to take things slow at school so I would have the energy to be the best mom I could be.”

But then Xochitl got involved in the First-Gen Scholars Program and things started to really click. “I was able to quit my full time job because I got several paid internships on campus. I also became a mentor in the First-Gen Scholars Program, which gave me a lot of confidence.” Xochitl began exploring different fields of social work and grew her passions through different campus departments at the U. One of those departments was through the Dream Center.

“When I came back to the U in 2019 I was working full time and was doing online and evening classes. Because I had two little boys at home, I vowed to myself to not be an absent mom. I had to take things slow at school so I would have the energy to be the best mom I could be.”

“As an undocumented Latina woman I understand the adversities my people face. Although I decided to declare my area of focus as Global, my second area of focus is in mental health, specifically the mental health of the Latine and immigrant populations. There is not only a lack of Spanish speaking therapists, but also a lack of therapists who can truly relate to the lived experience and realities. This is a core part of what drives me.”

Through the First-Gen Scholars Program, Xochitl met Lux Darkbloom, a librarian at the Marriott Library. Lux wears many hats, but one of her roles is working directly with First-Gen students, teaching and supporting students on everything from research methods, to citing references, to getting started on papers.

Xochitl’s two boys with her Mom.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Xochitl since she joined the First-Gen Scholars program. Throughout her time here at the U, I’ve been impressed by her intellectual curiosity and her ability to connect with others,” says Lux Darkbloom, associate librarian who works with the First-Gen students. “It’s honestly really inspiring to see someone so passionate about both her education and the well-being of her family and community. Xochitl has a genuine warmth that draws people in. Her kindness and empathy shine through in every interaction, and I think she’s going to make an amazing social worker. I feel so fortunate to have been Xochitl’s librarian through her undergrad experience. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next!”

What other factors played a role in Xochitl’s success? “I have an incredible mom who helps me in so many ways. But the biggest thing is that she picks my boys up from school and watches them. Knowing that they are in good hands allows me to focus on academics. I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am today, and starting on my graduate degree, without my mom and I am so grateful for her.”

Xochitl now makes up a part of the 15.6% of Latinas 25 and over who hold not one, but two undergraduate degrees (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey 2022 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). In May of 2025 Xochitl will be back in the cap and gown, masters degree in hand, preparing to go out into the world and make a difference in individual lives and in the world. Godspeed Xochitl.

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