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Here to Help: First-generation college grad Jaqueline Araiza helps students navigate admissions process

June 30, 2023, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Jaqueline Araiza disliked high school so much that she dropped out. Now she helps students navigate their own education journeys at Grand Rapids Community College

Araiza is a first-generation college student. She dropped out of high school, but ultimately went back to get her diploma when her mother insisted she needed to if she wanted to live at home. After graduating from West Ottawa in 2016, Araiza knew that college wasn’t for her. She began working long hours to make ends meet. 

During the summer, Araiza met with a success coach who insisted she should give college a try. She began taking classes and proved to her mom and herself that she could do it. She left her job and became a student employee at GRCC’s Lakeshore Campus. 

Araiza graduated with her associate degree in 2019, and then continued her education at Grand Valley State University where she completed a bachelor’s degree in social work. She is currently working towards a master’s degree in social work at the University of Michigan. 

While she is taking classes at other universities, Araiza still calls GRCC home. She has moved from a part-time student ambassador, to an Administrative Professional Support Staff, and is now the Admissions and Enrollment Coordinator and the Lakeshore Campus lead. 

“I never imagined I would have stayed in higher education,” Araiza said, “I only learned about higher education opportunities once I started as a student employee at GRCC. I am so happy to have found GRCC, as it has opened endless opportunities for me.” 

Araiza spends the majority of her time helping students navigate admissions steps, and working with students is her favorite part of her job. The admissions department focuses on provisioning accessible support to students to make their college experience as easy as possible to navigate. 

“Navigating college and choosing a career is an exciting but challenging journey,” Araiza said, “I recommend students seek as much guidance as possible. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your academic advisor, GRCC staff, and professionals in the field. Everyone is here to help you.” 

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