In their own words Star Student

CalWORKs Mom Mikal Keleta Wanted to be Free to Go to Foothill-De Anza College

Foothill College CalWORKs Program

What exactly is freedom to the average man or woman? If freedom is given when one is born, then I was born free in the city of Asmara, Eritrea. I was given the opportunity to go to school and make something of myself. At the age of 18, however, my freedom was taken. I no longer had the right to go to school. I was forced to serve in the military against my will.

As a result, I left my country in sight of a better educational opportunity.

By the age of twenty-one, I had reached the United States and had started planning my future. Soon I would stumble with my English words, unable to communicate in class. I felt as if I didn’t belong. I saw my age increasing as I continued to struggle with my English. Furthermore, familial traditions pressured me to settle down and start a family. It was then that I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, Abigail. With the sudden emergence of Abigail, I felt my educational opportunities slipping away from my hands, despite the joy and happiness she instilled in me.

What about school? My original plan was to get an education and settle down. It would seem I had ended up doing the opposite. As time continued to move forward, my partner and I started developing feelings of discontent. Separation became the only solution, leaving the responsibility of raising Abigail difficult, even more demoralizing than I had imagined. Challenges kept emerging left and right, academically and financially. Academically, I found myself with less time to study in order to take care of my daughter, while financially, I struggled to pay for my daughter’s babysitter and still maintain the travel expenses of my daily two-hour commute. Nevertheless, I received aid from the Financial Aid department and managed to finish the prerequisite classes to study Respiratory therapy.

Without the financial aid, specifically from CalWORKs, I would not have had the opportunity to finish my classes.

I would have struggled making ends for my daughter and family, leaving me stranded without a direction. The security that came with the aid also gave me time to provide service for others. I was able to volunteer at the Highland Hospital for those in need. Altogether, the financial aid gave me a sense of hope and encouragement to continue despite the daily challenges. I survived thanks to my hard work, but more importantly, through the support of my family, friends, co-workers, and the financial aid department. I am a hard worker who is passionate about healthcare and a mother who wants to create a positive future for my daughter,

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