Understanding the roadblocks people face in their struggle to advance themselves has led Paola Arevalo to find her calling in social work.

During her sophomore year at Saint Mary’s, Arevalo attended a S.O.U.L. (Serving Others United in Love) trip to St. Louis, Mo., that solidified her career goals. “I work very well with people and my passion for helping others in need is one of the reasons I feel majoring in human services is the perfect fit for me,” said Arevalo. Arevalo’s passion stems from not receiving any sort of financial help from others when she was growing up. “I want to help people to motivate them and inspire them by letting them know they can succeed in life.” Taking human services courses at Saint Mary’s has prepared Arevalo to understand what help is needed for specific groups of people from all walks of life.

Arevalo is thankful to have received the opportunity to earn a full ride scholarship from the First Generation Initiative (FGI) program at Saint Mary’s. “At first I felt I was not going to go to college because of the finances, but as soon as I got the call that I received the full ride scholarship, I felt it was important to always stay humble and to never give up,” said Arevalo. “I believe in the FGI mission to give students like me the opportunity to go to a four-year university and get the education t they truly deserve.” After graduation, Arevalo’s goal is to serve as a long-term volunteer in the field of social work in order to gain more experience and eventually attend graduate school.

Arevalo thanks the benefactors who have contributed to the FGI program and encourages them to never stop contributing to the program. “There are no words to describe how grateful I am for this wonderful opportunity. I thank the benefactors once again because without them I don’t think I would be here.”