HomeArticleFrom La Casa to Your Casa: A family’s first college student sets her sights high

From La Casa to Your Casa: A family’s first college student sets her sights high

by Claudia Martinez
It’s hard enough being the first to go to college but it’s an even greater challenge when you are a college student who happens to be Latino.
Karina Juarez, a student at La Casa Student Housing, is the first in her family to attend a university. Unlike her brothers, who saw more value in working and getting an immediate income to survive, Karina decided to go and get an education. She realized that in order to get somewhere in life she needed to go to school. “My parents are definitely proud of me for being the first one to go to college,” she said.
However, going to college hasn’t been easy for Karina.
“At first,” she says, “everything was new to me and I did not know what to expect.”
She couldn’t get any advice from her parents because this was a new experience for them also. Even today, many college-bound Latinos still don’t have the advantage of parents who can advise them on navigating the college system. Karina ended up relying on her older cousins and an uncle who has a Ph.D. for advice.
After completing the application process and financial aid paperwork, she got accepted into Northeastern Illinois University and began majoring in social work. Prior to living at La Casa she did not have a job and her daily routine included going home right after school. She wasn’t able to make friends with other students on campus.
However, this all changed after Karina met with her uncle and cousin Andrea. Her uncle encouraged both of them to apply to La Casa. After submitting the necessary paperwork, Karina got a scholarship to live at La Casa. The scholarship for students was launched in 2012 after all of the proceeds from the 9th Annual Global Latino Fest were donated to La Casa by the event organizers Milena Tous, President of Multi Latino Marketing Agency, Inc. and Pat Pulido Sanchez of Pulido Sanchez Communications.
Since moving into La Casa Student Housing, Karina has gotten her first internship here at The Resurrection Project. It’s helping her gain new skills and work experience she can add to her resume. “The networking here is incredible,” she says, “and the opportunities it gives everyone is great.”
She is also making new friends and gets to share the experience of living at La Casa with her cousin Andrea.
“What I like best about living at La Casa is the opportunities, the people I’ve met here, and I love the neighborhood.”
Being the first to go to college is tough but Karina is well on her way to creating a path of success for herself.
Learn more about La Casa Student Housing…

Return to Nueva Vida August 2014 here.