Path to College

I did it! Three years and zero student loan debt!

I am a first generation college student. I attended the University of North Texas (UNT), where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Counseling. Although I faced many adversities, I had a great support system that helped me along the way. Knowing the financial struggles that college generates for many students, I took the initiative to apply to as many scholarships as possible and kept myself well-informed to acquire my degree.

Being far away from home, my biggest supporter was my mother Luz Lopez, a single mother of five, who comforted me from the detachment of my family. My high school, Brackenridge, provided many college resources and partners who helped and prepared me in the College Center on campus. I was an applicant for the San Antonio Education Partnership Scholarship (SAEP), completing all requirements to earn eligibility. However, I decided to attend a university outside of San Antonio. Due to my attendance at SAEP workshops, I acquired knowledge, skills, and resources which smoothed my transition to UNT. I received my cosmetology license in High School thanks to Mrs. Ellen Bradly, my cosmetology teacher, who taught me the true definition of challenge and dedication. Mrs. Bradly made us challenge our future and how we can bring success into our life with or without a cosmetology license and reminded us of different opportunities life has. Our dedication to our craft was important to Mrs. Bradly because she preached to never do a project half way and always see it through.

While in high school I was heavily into community service and with that I became aware of the Kym’s Kids Scholarship. I was giving back service hours to the San Antonio community and at the same time gathered scholarship awards of $700 for each semester in college. Thanks to the college advisor at Brackenridge, Mr. Jacob Hall, who informed me of the Emerald Eagle Scholarship at UNT, I was awarded full tuition for the seven semesters, which I was thankful to have received.

Before I began my freshman year at UNT, I kept a look out for every email that was sent to make sure I was registered and ready for the upcoming years. I followed every checklist as I was going to live on campus in West Resident Hall for my freshman year. I applied for an on-campus school job two weeks before moving in and worked as a front desk clerk at Mozart Resident Hall for my freshman year. I looked into organizations on campus to keep myself involved once classes began.

My pathway to college taught me many professional skills that led me to a successful time in my life. I am now working towards applying for a Master’s degree. As I am also a college advisor, the experience of preparing for my undergraduate career and fulfilling it prepared me and keeps me motivated. You are the only person responsible for your actions to be successful in the future. It will only get better from here.


Valery Lara

College Access & Success Advisor, Road to Success

Giving Tuesday Now is a global day of unity, TODAY, May 5th, and we humbly ask you to support SAEP’s efforts to provide educational opportunities for San Antonio students today. Give at and know that every dollar counts towards virtual advising sessions, scholarship assistance, and many more services that students need now more than ever. Share your SAEP story with us using #GivingTuesdayNow on social media and be a part of the movement.