My name is Claudia Duarte and I graduated from LaGuardia Community College in 2002. I always wanted to know what I could offer as an alumna, and LaGuardia has allowed me the opportunity to do just that by sharing my story with you in the fall edition of LaGuardia Connections, the College’s alumni e-newsletter.
I was born in Colombia and my family moved to the United States in 1988 in search of a violence-free life. The opportunity to migrate to the USA was a dream come true. College had always been among my life goals and after graduating from high school, I enrolled at my local community college to begin achieving my dream, but family issues and financial pressures forced me to change my plans.
I struggled to make ends meet by working two jobs, which meant school got left out of my survival plan.
Motherhood influenced my decision to continue my education so I could better my family’s life. My husband also encouraged me to enroll at LaGuardia, telling me it was the best community college in New York City. In 2000, I started on my new path.
My first few days at LaGuardia were quite difficult because I had been out of school for eight years. I was also working a full-time job and expecting my second child. This new endeavor seemed very difficult at the time but my desire to be a professional was bigger than my fears of failure.
During my attendance at LaGuardia, I had the opportunity to experience education at its best. Although the academic expectations were a challenge, they really helped me to become a well-rounded individual who was ready for world. It also prepared me to enter a four-year college with more confidence.
In 2005, I graduated from The City College of New York with a B.A. in Communications and an open door to success. I achieved the highest level of education of anyone in my family, and am proud to serve as a role model in this regard for my children. Today, I am a Public Health Educator for the City of New York. I can honestly say that the benefits of achieving an education are far greater than the fears that held me back years before. LaGuardia was always the backlight to my success as a student and also as a professional. I always refer back to my beginnings here to my friends who want to go back to school.
I look forward to sharing my message of hope and success with LaGuardia students through participation through alumni mentoring opportunities and at other fundraising events, where I can also reconnect with my peers.
Claudia Duarte, ‘02