Gabriela Munoz knows all too well what it means to be in the right place at the right time and watching life fall into place. Immigrating to the United States from Guanajuato, Mexico in 2006, she took English as a Second Language classes and GED preparation courses at Triton College to help in her search of finding a job. Following her completion of those classes, she spent a year trying to find a job but to no avail. It wasn't until she saw a flyer at her church from Nuevos Horizontes about an orientation to pursue a higher education that doors began opening for the Melrose Park resident.
In 2009, she decided to pursue a certificate in accounting at Triton, which she completed in a year, and then earned an associate's degree in accounting with honors in 2011 from Triton. From there, she began work-study in Triton's Adult Education Department, before getting her current job as instructional aide at Nuevos Horizontes, where she also teaches bilingual computer classes.
With a degree and steady income, Munoz chased after a second degree in general studies at Triton in order to pursue a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration at Governors State University. She graduated with her second associate's in December 2012 and plans to complete her studies at Governors State in 2013 – again with honors.
What have been some obstacles you've had to overcome in pursuit of your education and career goals? The first barrier was the language; not speaking English is very difficult when you're trying to earn a degree or certificate. Another difficulty that I had to overcome was time management. It was difficult balancing my time between my kids and my school work. When I started going to school full-time, it was so difficult being a mother, wife, and student. My daughters were so little – ages 1 and 2 at the time – and they needed a lot of care and attention.
What have been some sources of inspiration both in your career and in your life? My first inspiration is my family, especially my daughters. All that I do, I do it with them in mind. I want them to feel proud of me, and I’d like to one day help them more in their studies. Also, my parents inspire me to continue because my father has always believed in me so much, and I want him to never be disappointed in me.
What would you describe as your strong suit? I consider myself a dreamer and positive person. I always try to maintain an optimistic attitude, trying to learn something new of everything that I do. I believe if we think right we attract the right things too. I like to smile at everybody and be nice with all people.
How has Triton College impacted your life? Definitely, Triton has impacted my life in a very positive way. Triton College opened their doors of success to me. I had the opportunity to get my GED, take ESL courses and then to successfully complete an associate's degree. Plus, I've had the opportunity of working at Triton and being part of the Volunteer Tutor Literacy program and member of the TEAM mentoring program. I have learned so much here at Triton and want to continue my studies.
What are your words of wisdom for current Triton students? "If there is a will, there is a way." My words of wisdom for students is that if they have a dream, go for it. Never surrender nor give up. If something seems difficult at school, don't worry; there is always a way. Education is the most important tool for a successful life.
What are your plans for the future? My plan for the future is to pursue a master's degree in healthcare administration and in adult education to continue teaching. I am planning to become a Spanish GED instructor at Triton College to help students who need assistance in pursuing their education and goals in life. Later, I would like to earn my doctorate in administration or education.
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