Maria Aponte, Ashford University in Cllinton, Iowa

My name is Maria Aponte and I am 35 years old. I live in Saint Cloud, Florida, and I am an Ashford University graduate.

My childhood was difficult: my elementary years were spent in foster homes and youth shelters, and my teenage years were spent living on the streets. By the age of 20, I had given birth to four children, and had buried two of them. For me, the most important thing was to make sure I provided my children with a safe place to sleep and good schools to attend. So, I worked really hard at work and at covering up the fact that I only had a seventh grade education.

My hard work paid off. I have successfully raised four happy, healthy children – three of my own and my niece, who I am in the process of adopting. Because of my own experience with life without an education, I made education a primary focus in my household. It’s not just about the grades; it’s about the knowledge that comes from learning.

To reinforce this idea, I made the decision to take the GED. I wanted a better life and a chance to show my kids that anything is possible if you desire it and are motivated to achieve it. When I passed the GED, I celebrated by enrolling in college.

Four years later on May 9, 2010, I walked across the stage in Clinton, Iowa and received my Bachelor of Arts degree with double majors in Psychology and Social Science with an Education concentration.

Now, I am applying to premedical programs, with the end goal of earning an MD in neurology and a PhD in Psychiatry. My dream is to launch a safe house for teenage children living on the streets so that they can have the opportunity to be who they are and get the guidance they need.

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