“At the CSU I have the support I need to overcome the challenges I face.” Lucero Alvarez Vieyra first learned about Sonoma State University as a high schooler through its Upward Bound program. Now, with the help of faculty and staff, she’s on track to graduate and create a better life for her daughter. Page ContentAt 16, Lucero Alvarez Vieyra sat nervously in front of Gerald Jones, a college-prep advisor. The high schooler was ready to tell him she'd no longer be applying to college.Having learned she was pregnant, Alvarez Vieyra couldn't see how she'd be able to juggle motherhood and college; her aspirations of becoming a medical researcher would have to be put on hold. But the advisor presented the teen with a different approach: Change your path, he told her, not your dream. Jones, director of the Upward Bound program at Sonoma State University, then helped outline a way Alvarez Vieyra could manage being a mom while earning a biochemistry degree at Sonoma State. "Mr. Jones reaching out to reassure me that [going to college] was still possible made all the difference in the world. Seeing all the effort that was placed into me encouraged me to keep going," she says. "If we hadn't had that talk, who knows where I would be today."Now in her third year on the campus of 9,500 students, Alvarez Vieyra will soon begin to conduct lab research, participates actively in the Chemistry Club and the Makerspace lab, and has traveled abroad on research trips offered through the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program. My professors all want me to do well and succeed, and that makes me want to do the best I can. A Difficult StartIt wasn't until Alvarez Vieyra enrolled in Sonoma State's Upward Bound Sonoma County program as a high school sophomore that she even began to think college might be an option for her. The federal program, which prepares low-income, first-generation college students to enroll in and graduate from a four-year university, introduces high schoolers to college terms and processes. Though Alvarez Vieyra loved Upward Bound, her first year in college wasn't in any way easy. She struggled to balance motherhood, school and work; and she was placed on academic probation. The following year, her family faced homelessness. Not surprisingly, she thought about dropping out. Then her advisors and professors at Sonoma State stepped in, just as her college-prep advisor had done years earlier, presenting her with a direction that would keep her on track to graduate. "Just seeing how many faculty members genuinely care and want to see me succeed makes me want to push on even more," she says. "These are the people who believe in me during the times I don't believe in myself. "The CSU has impacted me in the most positive ways. I have the support I need to overcome the challenges I face."