“Wallin is the reason I am going to college. When I found out I got into the program, I could not speak. It was like my life changed in an instant.”
At 22, Marlene Velasco is thoughtful, driven, and incredibly hard-working. Growing up in Oaxaca, Mexico, she dreamed of education. “My family could not afford to send me to college, but they gave me all the love and support I needed—the things that truly matter”. From an early age, Marlene worked to help support her family.
When Marlene was 18, her dreams of education intact, she seized an opportunity to immigrate to the United States. Marlene and her husband settled in Minneapolis when she was 18.
New son in tow, Marlene enrolled at Wellstone International High School. She caught up quickly. After homework, she practiced English into the night. Her teachers took notice of her talent and ambition. They suggested she try two courses through Minneapolis College’s D3 program. There, she discovered a love for numbers, accounting in particular.
“I was surprised to be elected valedictorian at my high school. Even so, I had no idea how to pay for college. My plan was not to go. It just was not possible, financially.” That is when Marlene’s high school counselor introduced her to Wallin Education Partners’ 2-year Program.
She applied and was accepted. Wallin would provide critical financial support for Marlene to continue her studies at Minneapolis College, as well as a 1-1 advising relationship to support Marlene throughout her journey at school.
“My Wallin advisor is Samara. Our relationship means so much to me. I talk to her all the time. I can ask her anything. She also speaks Spanish, which really helps. She understands what it is like for me.” Over the past year, Marlene has been juggling the demands of a full-time course load, a child at home, and a part-time job—all in the face of a global pandemic.
“Balancing everything right now is challenging, but I see a real career ahead of me. I am the first woman in my family to attend college. Whenever things get hard, I think of my mother, Ofelia Gomez. She is my motivation. This is all for her.” After graduating, Marlene wants to give back by applying her talents in the government sector. Her long term goal is to work for the IRS.
“I think back to growing up in Oaxaca and my dream of education. If I could, I would tell my childhood self to never give up. I would say that there will be challenges, but that they will not last forever. I would remind myself that I am strong, and as long as I stay focused, there will be people here to support me along the way.”
We at Wallin Education Partners are honored to be counted among those people who are supporting Marlene on her path to degree completion.