Student Stories

graduating students

When you make a donation to the Rio Hondo College Foundation, you enable students like these to work toward a brighter future!Click here to donate

Justin ChowJustin Chow
As a child, I’d always wanted to become an illustrator. I taught myself to draw, and illustrated an entire story in fifth grade. But someone was always telling me I would fail at art, and that art was just a waste of my time. My family expected me to pursue a more professional occupation.

I squelched my dream and enrolled in a nursing program elsewhere. But I felt increasingly out of place, and left nursing and college altogether.
Years later, I came to Rio Hondo, and tentatively enrolled in one art class. What a difference!

Here at Rio, outstanding art instructors made me feel understood and valued. I began to blossom as an artist. I won Rio Hondo awards in Art and in Graphic Design, and an art competition at Rose Hills. I was invited to illustrate a children’s book, which has now been published. Last May, I proudly graduated from Rio Hondo with an Associate Degree in the Arts.

I am so grateful to Rio Hondo College for all that I’ve accomplished. I hope one day I can give back and award a scholarship to a budding art student too.

Yarisma Rocha
No one in my family had attended college, and I planned to be the first. Even though I became a mother at 18, I enrolled at Rio Hondo and started toward my degree.

Then I faced a new crisis: my toddler daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. For two long years I struggled, spending my days at the hospital and nights in college classes. I was constantly torn between my two priorities.

But at Rio Hondo, my instructors gave me the emotional support I needed to persevere. I took Honors Transfer courses, joined the Honor Society, served as a student ambassador and earned a 3.85 GPA.

Along the way, my daughter’s cancer went into remission. She graduated from Rio Hondo’s Child Development Center the same week I graduated from Rio Hondo College. I have now transferred to the USC Marshall School of Business to complete my BA.

Rio Hondo made it possible for me to achieve my educational goals, despite the challenges. I will be forever grateful.

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