Lauren Burgos, a student at Strayer University, shares her story with Lorena Mora-Mowry.
Lauren is a 22-year-old from Brooklyn who had always planned to go to college, possibly even to become a lawyer, but when her father died while she was still in high school she took a job to help her family, eventually working 40-60 hours a week at a Manhattan hotel so her brother could attend college, while she helped pay the rent. Young Burgos’ dreams of higher education became a distant memory for her, but her family never forgot. When her brother, Matt, learned that Strayer University was looking to award scholarships to people whose obstacles had forced them to take a detour in life, instead of pursuing college, he submitted Lauren’s story of selflessness.(Source: Strayer University)
LM-M: This is Lorena Mora-Mowry from Latina Today. With us, we have Lauren Burgos from Brooklyn New York. Welcome, bienvenida!
LB: Hi How are you it’s good to be here with you guys today!
LM-M: Lauren, I loved your story, as a mother of a future college student, for me it was very important to hear your story. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from and what is your background?
LB: Sure. So my family is from Puerto Rico but I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve never moved since I’ve lived in Brooklyn NY my whole life and I just started school a few months ago which is really exciting. Right out of High School of course I had dreams of going to college, going to get a good job, going to practice that typical route everyone in America is supposed to go on.
But right at the end of HS, my family suffered a terrible loss, my father had died. And of course when he died, half of our income was no longer there. So my education was kind of put on hold so I went out I got a job, I tried to support my family as best as I could and we just didn’t have the means for me to go to school. So throughout that time I kept telling myself, “I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go it’s just for now that I have to put these dreams to the side.” And of course you put yourself through the self-doubt of “maybe I don’t need to go to school.” But deep down inside I knew I was going to go back to school. So it was always in the back of my mind and it was something I was pushing towards. I never stopped studying or reading and recently we kind of just made it to the clear, ok financially we’re ok.
We kind of climbed our way up and I should start thinking about going to school again but it’s really expensive. So I saved up a little bit and while I was looking at schools I was looking at community colleges because they were more affordable. My brother and Strayer University just surprised me. And my family was like were giving you a free ride to college so who’s not going to take that? So I started a few months ago and it’s been incredible.
LM: Something that really inspired me and motivated me to talk to you is your quote “In 5 to 10 years I will be a self-confident independent woman traveling the world.” Trust me that’s the dream and I want my daughter to have that dream. Why was it so important for you to go to college?
LB: I was home-schooled growing up.
My mentality was always never stop learning no matter what it is, a formal education, but never stop learning. My mother always told me life is full of lessons, life is full of learning, once you stop learning there is no living after that. And now because of the way jobs are and the way the economy is a college education is always what a HS diploma was years ago, decades ago. To get a basic job they look for a minimum of a college degree and a few years of experience that is just how you get ahead now. But for me it wasn’t just for work it was something I always wanted to do, something I wanted to do for myself. So when I say I want to be self-confident woman that confidence is going to come from getting that degree and making it through that and working hard. I’ve done pretty all right for someone my age. I make a good decent amount of money, I support my family, I’m proud of that but just for myself I want that degree, that’s for me.
LM-M: Knowing your story is it possible for more Hispanic Latinos like you to shift their dreams?
LB: Oh, absolutely. I think it’s possible for anyone right now and I think it’s incredibly important for people in our community to just continue their education and keep going down that road. And also just learn about your culture. Learning about your culture is important.
LM-M: How has Strayer University supported you to fulfill that dream for you to go to college?
LB: They gave me the full ride to college which is incredible but also everyone has been very motivating and also very supportive. They hear my story and they know how excited I am and they are always asking if I have any questions or if I need anything to let them know. I still have people who helped me with all the paper work and they still email me to check in on me. Some of my professors knew my situation that I was trying to support my family and fit school in so very politely they remind me of my deadlines, like “hey just a reminder your assignment is due next week,” and I say “thank you I appreciate that.” Everyone has been incredibly supportive and they want to teach and they want you to learn and they want you to do well which is nice. I’ve heard, not from my own personal experience but I’ve heard of other people who go to school and they go to the teachers for help asking if they think they’ll pass the test and they’re like “oh just take the test and you’ll find out.” No additional information just take the test and that’s it.
LM-M: Any additional message for the student for the Latino student that are facing many challenges that they don’t know what to do that it is difficult for them? And any message that you have for the student and for the mom like me and for the Latino community because I can see that everyone is helping you to go to college and that is why we are celebrating here today, you are going to fulfill your dream.
LB: Well, I think you have to know for yourself if it’s something that you want. There is this kind of cliché that goes around… “I can’t help you unless you help yourself.” So unless you are setting yourself up for those opportunities and getting the things that you need to get done, the offer may come by but you might not be able to accept it. So for example if I didn’t get my HS diploma, and Strayer wanted to give me a scholarship, they wouldn’t have been able to give it to me because I wouldn’t have had my diploma. So it’s just setting yourself up for success.
LM-M: You said that in 5 years you want to travel the world. What are you studying right now in Strayer University?
LB: I’m getting a business degree and my concentration is in international business. So I thought if I wanted to travel, or wanted to get a job that would help me travel, why not learn about international business and international cultures?
LM-M: Thank you so much. Something else that you would like to share with the Hispanic Latino community or virtual barrio?
LB: Just keep moving forward. I know not everyone is going to follow the same path, not everyone is going to finish high school, go to school, graduate, and everyone is going to have their own detours. And my brother Matthew, he always told me, it’s a rat race, life is a rat race, we’re all going to end up in the same spot, we all have different ways of going there but if you keep going, keep moving forward and you keep doing what you know you need to do for your family and for yourself, you’re going to succeed. So just keep going and surround yourself with people who are going to motivate and inspire you and keep you on the right track.
LM-M: Thank you so much Lauren have a wonderful day.
LB: Thank you have a good night!
IMAGE CREDIT: Strayer University