Xochitl Karina Perez Balderas and her family moved to San Marcos from Mexico in order to pursue the American Dream. “My parents had to make personal sacrifices so that my brother and I would have a better education. By moving to this country, they hoped to gain stability and opportunities for our family. I owe my parents for the education I am receiving today.”
At Cal State University San Marcos, Xochitl is studying for a degree in mass media and a minor in video production with career aspirations to utilize media to raise awareness about serious issues that affect marginalized groups. “Through cinema and television, my goal is to create consciousness that is positively received.”
One of her obstacles to college has been financial. Coming from a working class family without legal status in this country disqualified her from financial aid and loans through FAFSA so her parents covered the full cost of her tuition on their own. “It was a great relief to have the PACE scholarship to help my parents with the costs of my education.”
College life has taught Xochitl important life lessons. While in high school, her focus was more on the social aspects instead of the academic requirements. “Since I came from a different country, I found a sense of belonging through making friends in high school. I felt that as long as I could pass my classes – even if it meant through summer school – I would make it to college.” College required Xochitl to shift her focus from socializing to studying. “Maintaining good grades is much more important now. I’ve had to learn how to balance my socializing and academic studies through time management.” While some of her friends from high school stopped studying and dropped out of college, she sees the importance of her academics to her future.
Her advice to future PACE Scholars: Practice good time management and studying techniques because it will make a positive difference in your performance.
She also encourages PACE Scholars to make time to broaden their investigation of college beyond the PACE field trips. “Meet with the college department that interests you whether it is the Dean, a professor or even students so you know more specifically what to expect and if this degree will support your desired career.”