Celeste Garcia

School:  Mesa Community College

Major:  Psychology

RISE Start:  2023

Graduation Year:  2026

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Paige Arriaga as GCU employee

Interview with Celeste Garcia on December 2, 2023

We interviewed Celeste to determine the impact of the College Bound Rise Scholars program on her education ambitions as well as other areas of her life.

How did you first learn about RISE Scholars, and what motivated you to get involved and enroll in this program?

I first learned about RISE the first or second month at EVIT, a young woman came into class and gave a presentation about how RISE had helped her in so many ways and she had it with information and emails. I was interested but still clueless, I did not know exactly what RISE Scholars was so I ended up having to go meet Elizabeth Paulus myself. Intimidated and nervous, I went into the RISE office and met the nicest people ever. They were kind enough to go in depth on what you do in RISE, help with scholarships, applying to Colleges and/or University and more. I was extremely pleased with the information filled Conversations I had with them at RISE.

Can you share a specific moment or experience during your time with RISE Scholars that had a significant impact on you?

When I first met Ms.Paulus, she asked about myself, and I wasn’t really too sure what to say, so I said everything. I was living on my own with my significant other and wasn’t prepared to be continuing school. I need help finding a job, i was struggling to buy groceries, trying to finish school work at school since I couldn’t do it at home and overall miserable but slightly hopeful. After about a week or so, I was told to go back to the RISE office to talk with Ms.Paulus. I went in a hurry in case it was important, and my brain stopped in confusion. “This is for you!” she said, holding a laptop. In all honesty, I thought it was some kind of joke, or something. Until I realised that this laptop was truly for me. I began to feel emotional and felt the urge to hug her in gratefulness. I was so happy. I couldn’t be thankful enough. That moment has really changed me, and helped me, especially with school. 

 In what ways has being part of RISE Scholars influenced your thoughts on going to college?

When I started going to EVIT, I was set on going to college to become a psychiatrist but I didn’t really know what to do or how to go about it. All I knew was my end goal. I ended up having a conversation with EVIT’s RISE Scholar College Advisor, Ms Castro-Corral. She helped me understand my enrollment for Mesa Community College and such, Since I am an adult out of highschool, my process into college would be different from the highschool students at EVIT. Since then, I’ve been studying and asking the EVIT counselor for adults, how I should be ready and plan my EVIT to MCC to ASU education. I am so happy for the advice and planning help I’ve had since being here at EVIT. RISE has helped me so much with college prep.

What challenges have you faced, if any, in your journey to college or college completion, and how did you overcome them?

I really struggled with my plan for college, I didn’t know what courses to do or which to go to college or university? I was all too confused and I needed help understanding my options more and in depth. I was basically on the search for information and advice from the staff at EVIT and RISE office. Transportation was a big struggle for me since my significant other had work and I had school but since we needed to pay for rent and food, we opted to use the car more for his work rather than school, that was until I was given another gift from RISE, an electric bike. I nearly had tears in my eyes, I was so happy. This way, my significant other and I didnt have to choose over my education or his work for rent and food. I couldn’t have thanked RISE college bound anymore. I truly am blessed. 

How do you think your involvement in RISE Scholars has contributed to your personal and academic growth?

I was interested in more schooling but nothing really solidified it until having a conversation with RISE advisors. I was pleased to know that they were tied with connections and information that I was in need of. I couldn’t have gotten my current job without help with RISE, i was immensely grateful, it’s a job helping and catering to the elderly in a dining setting. I’ve learned so much from my manager, my coworkers and even the elderly I serve. RISE has also helped me academically with a laptop that I can now use. I was able to finish homework at home and other assignments. I was given the E Bike and now I was able to prioritize my education and work over other things. 

Could you describe any memorable interactions with fellow students or mentos within RISE Scholars that stand out to you?

I remember walking out of the RISE office after talking to Ms.Paulus and thinking how grateful I was to have joined RISE and be offered help. I was truly grateful for the kindness they have shown me. The RISE advisors are the most understanding people I’ve met. 

 What initiatives or projects have you been a part of, and how do you believe they contribute to the overall mission of the organization?

Since Joining RISE, I’ve also joined the HOSA organization and also signed up for competitions and I hope to do many more things with EVIT and RISE Scholar. I hope to show them how far I will go to get the future career I want with their great help and guidance.

Has RISE Scholars shaped your future aspirations or career goals? If so, how?

It has definitely helped me shape the image I have for my future. I want to be able to provide and support the career choice of my significant other and mine as well, i know we as humans can be hopeful and create these big impossible goals in our minds but I know that with RISE Scholar’s help, I can make the idea a complete reality in my future. I didn’t think I would get this far, education wise, but now my mind and point of view has definitely changed, for the better.

What do you think sets RISE Scholars apart from other organizations focused on education and student support?

With RISE, I was able to make quick meetings or even just to stop by and say hi during office hours, i even got to meet others within RISE and talk about our situations and ideas for the future. I’ll admit, i was intimidated the first time meeting with the RISE advisors but within that hour conversation they welcomed me with open arms and did not judge me for my background and current living situation, if anything, they found ways to help me overcome these struggles i had and now i’m doing the best i can be!

If you had the opportunity to recommend the RISE Scholars program to other students, would you?  Why or why not?

YES! I would, RISE has truly changed me and I love the support they gave me. I am a person with anxiety and shyness so I guess I would if I could, but I truly do want others to know how much RISE has helped me.