GoGirl! Grant Recipients

Maria Aguilar

Maria Aguilar

Award Year: Fall 2015

Maria is the first generation in her family to attend college. Married with one daughter, she attended California State University San Bernardino full time in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Maria applied to Brandman University to earn her teaching credential.  Maria desires to become a teacher and work in Coachella Valley. Being the first member of her family to attend college, it is her desire to demonstrate to her daughter that goals can be obtained with hard work and dedication. Maria feels very strongly about giving back and helping others in her community.

Omozogi Asiruwa

Omozogi Asiruwa

Award Year: Fall 2015

Omozogie is a full time student at College of the Desert and has been accepted into the nursing program. On a student visa, Omozogie comes from Nigeria. Once she completes the nursing program and has a job she will then be awarded a work visa. She is very interested in pediatrics as she has firsthand experience with the lack of medical care in Nigeria. While someday she would love to return to her country, she really wants to work in the Coachella Valley to gain insight around modern medicine.

Ling-Ting Bycott

Ling-Ting Bycott

Award Year: Spring 2016

Although Ling-Ting has a degree in history from Taiwan, job opportunities were limited when she moved to the United States, mainly due to English being her second language. A single mother of one, she knew she had to get a new education to improve her living conditions. Ling-Ting returned to school and is a full time student at College of the Desert in pursuit of an Associate of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education with a long term goal of obtaining a Bachelor of Science in teaching. She works many small jobs to support herself and her daughter as well as interning at the College of the Desert McCarty Child Development and Training Center.

Guendi "Wendy" Castaneira

Guendi "Wendy" Castaneira

Award Year: Spring 2017

Homeless at the age of 18, Guendi has had to overcome many roadblocks before gaining the confidence she could do well in school.  With the encouragement from her mother-in-law, she returned to school and realized she was smart and now maintains a GPA of 3.7. She is in her second year of nursing school. Guendi is married with three children and both she and her husband are attending college while working part time to make ends meet. A grant from the Girlfriend Factor will enable her to complete her educational goal of becoming a nurse. Her career goal is to work in a fast paced environment where she can help people in need of medical assistance.

Kimberly Clarke

Kimberly Clarke

Award Year: Fall 2016

Working seasonal work as an office representative, Kim fills in the rest of her time as a full time student at California State University San Bernardino.  She is working on her multiple subjects teaching credential and plans to work with junior high aged students.  She has passed her CEST and CSET and studying for the RICA. Her motivation comes from an amazing Junior High School teacher who had a significant impact on her.  Kimberly volunteers as a junior high youth leader at Cornerstone Covenant church.

Maria Corona

Maria Corona

Award Year: Spring 2017

Born in Coachella Valley, Maria has spent much of her life attempting to hide she has a hearing impairment which has prevented her from having the courage to continue her education beyond high school. Married and the mother of two young children, Maria realized after her husband was deported to Mexico she had to do something to make a better life for her family.  With help from CalWorks, she has gained the tools she needs to deal with her disability and to do well in a college environment. She is studying Early Childhood Development with the goal of obtaining her Masters. She is the first person in her family to graduate from college.

Kelly Coronel

Kelly Coronel

Award Year: Spring 2017

At a very young age, Kelly became the core support for her family when her mother became unemployed.  Caring for her mother and two brothers, Kelly knew a college education would help her succeed in life. However attending college came with many ups and downs, including the birth of her daughter. With another member of the family to care for, Kelly was uncertain what career path to pursue. She sought guidance from the EOPS program at College of the Desert, and though this program she obtained one on one guidance giving her the motivation and direction she needed to reach her educational goals. Kelly desires to work for the National Forest Service as park ranger to provide better financial stability for her family.

Jackie Davis

Jackie Davis

Award Year: Fall 2013

Jackie lost her father at an early age, sending her down a path of destruction. Today, she has pushed back her demons and embraces a life of recovery. She is a full time student at College of the Desert in pursuit of an Associate Degree in Accounting. Jackie has served time with the International Women’s Conference as their fundraising chair and as the Vice President of the Scholarship Club at College of the Desert. She currently works full time at The Shop overseeing their books. She is also the Treasurer of the 9th District Convention. Her long-term goal is to have her own accounting business.

Bonnie Falkowski

Bonnie Falkowski

Award Year: Fall 2016

Dealing with the legal system to overcome personal issues has fueled Bonnie’s passion for the law and inspired her to return to school to become a lawyer. She is a full time student at Santa Barbara Business College working toward an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies. Once she completes her studies she hopes to work for a law firm and continue her studies to become a lawyer.  Her ultimate goal is to be an advocate for children and to eventually change laws with regard to child abuse. Bonnie is a single mother of an adopted daughter. In their free time they volunteer at a rescue mission for the homeless.

Lisa Halleck-Ellerbroek

Lisa Halleck-Ellerbroek

Award Year: Fall 2015

Lisa is a full time student at College of the Desert working on her Associate of Science in Business Administration. Her long term goal is to attend California State University San Bernardino in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Accounting so she can take over the accounting functions of their family business. Lisa and her husband have a blended family of six children. Lisa and her husband have decide they could make some changes in order for Lisa to give up her job and rely on one income while she attends to her educational goals.

Sadie Hammad

Sadie Hammad

Award Year: Fall 2016

Sadie is married and has two children.  Because she needs to work and devote a significant amount of time to a special needs child, she attends College of the Desert part-time working toward a Certificate in Accounting.  Upon completion of her studies, she plans to work in accounting for either a hospital or in the school district. Her motivation to return to school is centered on demonstrating to her children that once you start something, no matter how hard it gets, you can finish it.

Nicole Hernandez

Nicole Hernandez

Award Year: Spring 2013

Nicole is the first generation in her family to attend college. A single mother of two, she has been pursuing her college degree for several years, but has not given up on her goal to work in the public health sector.  Attending California State University San Bernardino, she plans to complete her Bachelor of Science degree by the Fall of 2017. After this accomplishment she will continue her studies and work on a Master’s program to be completed by the Fall of 2019. Nicole is very dedicated and is proud she had achieved every goal she has set for herself.

Alejandra Lara

Alejandra Lara

Award Year: Fall 2016

Alejandra is a mother of four and did not graduate from high school.  Determined to improve her life, she received her GED from College of the Desert and continued her studies online, receiving her Associate of Science from Kaplan College.  Thanks to the support and encouragement from family and friends, she is a full time student at Santa Barbara Business College working toward a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.  She wants to have a career in Law Enforcement to work for the probation/parole department.  Santa Barbara Business College has a great intern program, and Alejandra is excited to have the opportunity to prove why she wants to work in the law enforcement field.

Melissa Moll

Melissa Moll

Award Year: Fall 2015

A foster parent for children who enter this world under less favorable conditions, Melissa has adopted three children who were in her care.  Desiring to improve her ability to support her family, she left her job of 18 years and returned to school to complete her education. She is now a full time student at Brandman University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies. Her goal is to become an elementary school teacher. In 2015 she received Time Warner’s Mother of the Year award based on an essay her oldest daughter submitted. She hopes to be a positive influence on the lives of many and wishes to be a role model to her future students.

Jennifer Muñoz

Jennifer Muñoz

Award Year: Spring 2015

Correcting a poor decision she made as a young person, Jennifer earned her GED so she could pursue a career in nursing. Her passion to become a nurse and work in pediatrics stems from her early childhood experience when her younger sister became very ill and had to go through several operations to remove tumors from her brain and spine.  The support and concern demonstrated by the medical staff given to her and her family at the time of her sister’s ordeal now motivates her to reach her educational goal of becoming a nurse. Married with two daughters she attends California University San Bernardino in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Judith Munoz

Judith Munoz

Award Year: Spring 2017

Born in Palm Springs from immigrant parents, Judith was instilled with the ethics of hard work and determination to succeed in life. She worked to put herself through college first earning an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from the College of the Desert, then commuting for two years to San Bernardino to receive her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. Being the first member of her family to obtain a college degree, she set out on a path doing something she loved working as a Wellness Instructor at the Betty Ford Rehabilitation Center.  When her father became ill in 2013, she spent many hours at the hospital and became inspired by the work of the nurses, seeing a new opportunity for a future career.  Now a mother of a young daughter, Judith is committed to obtaining her BSN degree followed by an MSN degree. Her ultimate goal is to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

Dawn Nepusz

Dawn Nepusz

Award Year: Spring 2017

Dawn has a young daughter and realizes how difficult it is to be single and raising a child. Wanting to improve her financial earning capability and to demonstrate to her daughter the importance of an education, Dawn has returned to school to earn a degree in nursing. Dawn has been accepted to California State University San Bernardino for her Bachelors of Science in the nursing program. Once she receives her BSN, she plans to get a masters in nursing to become a Nurse Practitioner. College means a great deal to Dawn, but the main reason is her daughter sees how hard Dawn works, and in turn inspires her daughter do well in school also.

Gracy Perez

Gracy Perez

Award Year: Spring 2017

Gracy began working at the young age of 14 to assist her parents financially.  The idea of a college education was not a priority, especially after she married and started a family of her own.  When her husband lost his job, she realized she had to do something to improve her earning power.  After researching the different educational facility in Coachella Valley, she enrolled in Santa Barbara Business College and earned her associates degree in Medical Assisting.  She is now pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration. “With perseverance, my dreams of being well educated has change the course of my future as well as my children’s future.”

Jeanette Ramirez

Jeanette Ramirez

Award Year: Spring 2017

Janette comes from a traditional Mexican family raised around agriculture fields where both her parents worked most of their lives. She grew up seeing many of her people suffer with health issues due to weather changes they experienced while working in the fields. Watching her mother, who had studied medicine in Mexico, tend to her colleges in the field, inspired Janette to become a nurse someday. After receiving her Medical Assistant Certificate, she can now work while attending college to complete her associate’s degree then continuing her education to earn a nursing degree. Jeanette is determined to make a better life for herself and her three children while giving back to her community.

Belle Segev

Belle Segev

Award Year: Spring 2017

Coming from an impoverished background, Belle set out on a journey to improve her life, leaving behind her family and native home of Israel moving to England for a brighter future. There, after many ups and downs, she found the support and training she needed to become successful working for a company in sales.  From this experience, Belle realized the importance of acceptance, support and guidance. Today she hopes to utilize her lessons in life to benefit others by becoming an occupational therapist specializing in children’s therapy. Belle has been a permanent resident in Coachella Valley for over 10 years. She attends California State University San Bernardino working on her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and will continue on to complete her graduate work in Occupational Therapy.

Jami Simms

Jami Simms

Award Year: Fall 2016

Jami has had to break through many barriers and issues in her life to get on track to complete her educational goal that will afford her a financially stable life for herself and her four children.  Working part time as a surgical nurse assistant in a dental office, she attends College of the Desert full time. Upon graduation she will pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene at Loma Linda University. Her current employer is committed to full time employment once she completes her degree, leading her to a life of self-sufficiency.

Erin Teran

Erin Teran

Award Year: Spring 2016

Due to family issues as a teenager, Erin lost interest in an education beyond high school.  Then she met a man who believed she could do better by going to college, but his untimely death after the birth of their daughter put another delay on her pursuing her educational goals. She didn’t give up on her dream, returning to school at a later time. Erin is now in her final year of nursing school as a full time student at Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree. She commutes from Indio every day to attend her classes. Erin is passionate about the nursing field and can’t wait to become a nurse.

Yesenia Teran

Yesenia Teran

Award Year: Spring 2017

Married with two school aged children, returning to school was no small sacrifice for Yesenia. She had to start from scratch first earning a GED certificate then going on to receive an Associate’s Degree in Kinesiology.  Working as a Medical Scribe, Yesenia shadowed a doctor in the emergency room to document patient’s charts. Through her work at JFK Memorial Hospital, she has been exposed to many patients in crisis due to mental health issues and sees firsthand the disparities they face and the lack of proper health care and empathy.  Yesenia is determined to earn her degree in Psychology and Biology and then enter medical school. Her long term goal is to become a practicing psychiatrist in Coachella Valley and help develop an emergency department section designated for mental health patients during crisis.

Leigh Tomasko

Leigh Tomasko

Award Year: Fall 2015

Leigh realized upon losing her job and living on unemployment, she now had an opportunity to return to school and pursue a career she thought impossible to obtain in the past.  Upon earning her Associate of Science in Liberal Studies at the College of the Desert, she transferred to California State University San Bernardino to complete her studies necessary to become a teacher. She is interested in teaching math and science at the middle or high school level in Coachella Valley. A single mother of one daughter, Leigh is determined to make a better life for herself and her daughter.

Alejandra Valazquez

Alejandra Valazquez

Award Year: Fall 2016

Alejandra is a full time student studying Psychology at California State University San Bernardino. Motivated by her younger sister who has struggled with behavioral problems, Alejandra wants to be able to help others who have difficulty coping with the pressures of day to day living. Her long term goal is obtain her masters and work as a school psychologist.  She wants to be a role model for young women while having an impact on their lives.

Clara Velasco

Clara Velasco

Award Year: Fall 2016

Married, with twins and a baby, Clara still manages to be a full time student at California State University San Bernardino working toward her Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Although always interested in the medical field, it wasn’t until after the premature birth of her twins and the dedication the nurses provided to their care and survival that Clara knew she wanted to also give back by becoming a nurse.  Her advice to women wishing to return to school is to take the risk, because taking on challenges is what makes us stronger and independent.

Wendy Zamora

Wendy Zamora

Award Year: Spring 2017

Wendy is currently enrolled at California Nurses Educational Institute in the LVN program. Her goal is once she graduates with her LVN license she will continue with her education to become a registered nurse. This dream to become a nurse resulted from watching the care her daughter received at the NICU at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital when her daughter was born with a birth defect. A single mother of two children by age 18, Wendy has gone through some rough times, but her determination to succeed and be successful for her children’s future keeps her motivated and to not let obstacles interfere with her goals.