"Being a first-generation Mexican American and the eldest child in my family, I had a hard time finding where I fit within two very distinct cultures. 

[In high]school, my peers and teachers would talk about going off to college and having 'the college experience.' I wanted that for myself, however my parents expected me to live at home until I was married. I remember once telling my mom I wanted to go to college and her response of disapproval convinced me this would not be an option for me.

When I was 18, I graduated and enrolled at a local community college as a broadcast journalism major. 

One year later, I made the decision to move out on my own despite the cultural pressures to live at home. I began working full-time and attended school part-time. In 2010, I obtained my associate's degree. 

In 2012, I got married. Both my husband and I decided we wanted to have children, but we would do whatever it took to ensure that I met my goal of obtaining a higher education.

In 2015, I was accepted into California State University, Chico's online sociology program.  I had never taken an online course before, but I knew this would be my only option, being that I was working full-time and the mother of a newborn and a toddler. My greatest challenge was finding the time to be able to manage my household, my job and my classes online.    

My husband was my greatest support system. We worked as a team to ensure things would get done; we sacrificed time together. I did the bulk of my school workload on Saturdays and Sundays when I was off work. This meant that at least one of these days was entirely consumed from morning to night with lectures and assignments. 

Although it was challenging, I definitely believe the benefits of the online program outweighed the challenges. 

Having a newborn and a toddler, I needed to be physically home for my children. In fact, I remember nursing my newborn daughter while watching archived lectures. This was very normal for our lives back then. I enjoyed having the flexibility to complete assignments and watch lectures when I had the time as long as I met the deadlines. 

I most definitely recommend this route for other individuals who find themselves in a similar situation to mine. Although I didn't have the opportunity to be physically on campus, live lectures were available and I was able to participate via webcam if I logged on during the scheduled lecture times. My professors were very supportive and responsive. 

I'm now enrolled in California State University, Sacramento's graduate social work program.  My career goal is to be a licensed clinical social worker specializing in mental health and aging. 

I chose Sacramento State for my master's degree due to the proximity of the college to my home and work. Sacramento State does not offer an online program, however I am able to take two courses online and only need to attend school physically once a week. 

Although I did not have the opportunity to experience the traditional college route, I will never forget my experience at CSU Chico. I am thankful for the opportunity, and if it were not for my ability to complete my bachelor's degree online, I wouldn't be in the position I am today. 

I hope to inspire others who may not have been able to take the traditional college route to not give up on their dreams, but to pursue them to their fullest abilities!"

 

More than 2,000 undergraduates and more than 5,000 graduate students were enrolled in a fully online degree program at the CSU during the 2015-2016 academic year. More than 120 bachelor's and master's degree programs are available fully online, and more than 90 programs that are a  mix of online and classroom instruction were offered at the CSU as of October 2017. Learn more about online degree programs at the CSU.