As we go through life’s journey, we often need and seek inspiration from colleagues, mentors, friends, and family. Such has been the case for this Latina whose inspiration came from her parents.
Allow me to introduce you to Mónica Y. Hurtado-León, a first-generation Mexican-American young woman who, like many Latinas, has overcome major barriers and challenging battles in her academic and personal passages. Not only was she first in her family to graduate from college, but “I’m the first to graduate from high school,” she revealed. Mónica is part of a small percentage of Latinas who choose to pursue graduate degrees in the United States; a commendable action of strength, perseverance, and diligence. When asked why she decided to pursue a graduate degree, she explained“my parents came to this country to give us a better life, and that’s what I intend to do.” Mónica is an overachiever, but that’s not the main reason she wishes to pursue a higher education, she wishes to go “as far as I can [and] wishes to help young people overcome their mental, emotional problems.”
Like many Mexican immigrants who settle in the United States, Mónica was born in a small village. She crossed the U.S.-Mexico border at an early age and settled in California where she was raised, educated, and where she has blossomed into an amazing young woman. When it came to decide what to do after high school, she opted for her local community college because she wanted to remain close to home. She transferred to UC Davis to study Psychology and minored in Spanish.
Following her graduation, Mónica began working for a non-profit where “ I provided alcohol and drug prevention and treatment services to youth,” which solidified her passion in the helping profession and it motivated her to consider graduate programs. In the fall of 2011, she enrolled in the clinical psychology doctoral program at John F. Kennedy University where, in addition to her classes, she held various internships working with a variety of clinical patients. Mónica hopes to complete in the summer of 2019.
While described easily, accomplishing her goals has been extremely demanding. Mónica´s story might be like many other Latinas’, but her experience is unique and one from which all Latinas can learn and benefit. Throughout her academic journey, she’s encountered significant hurdles that have challenged her mentally, physically, and emotionally. Additionally, painful events caused by disingenuous individuals forced her to take time off from school, questioned herself, and broke her heart. Thankfully, despite the unpleasant and cruel realities she experienced, Mónica’s inner strength and desire to accomplish her goals are greater than life. Her family has been instrumental in helping her overcome unhealthy times and has assisted her financially and emotionally in continuing her studies. Mónica is the oldest of three children all of whom have followed Mónica’s footsteps by pursuing college degrees.
Although her accomplishments to date already are significant, the accomplishments that have yet to come are extremely promising and will have an enormous influence on her community. Her long-term goal is to establish her own private practice and help young adults navigate through their own journeys of self-discovery and self-care.