In 2012, Irlanda Bucio became a single, stay-at-home mom to four children all under
four years old. Although a thirty-year resident of Compton, Irlanda didn’t know that
being a college student could not only help her build a better life but could also
give her access to much-needed resources. That is, until she met a social worker who
showed her the difference a college education could make and introduced her to the
many ways Compton College goes above and beyond to support students.
"Between English as my second language and the lengthy FAFSA application, I didn't think I could go to college," explains Irlanda, who is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in sociology at Cal State Dominguez Hills. "Then, I took a closer look at Compton’s student support services.”
In 2000, Irlanda graduated high school and began working in the hospitality industry. At the time, she didn’t know how to enroll in college, and she didn’t know anyone who could help. 10+ years later, Irlanda knew she needed to secure a college degree to be able to build a better future for herself and her family, but worried about how she would be treated as an “older” student.
Eventually, Irlanda chose Compton College for its wrap-around student support services and caring faculty and staff. In 2019, Irlanda earned her associate degree and certificate in social and behavioral sciences. She credits public assistance programs like CalWORKs and Extended Opportunities Programs and Services (EOPS) which provide access to academic support and financial aid to help students graduate college. Irlanda also took advantage of free childcare services at the child development center while she attended classes and worked on campus.
"I've received gas cards, meal vouchers, weekly student supplies, childcare, and more," Irlanda says. "Getting support for my family helped me finish my education and start my career."
Compton College offers more than 40 degree and certificate programs to prepare students for direct entry into in-demand careers. With specialized training designed by qualified experts, students gain the support they need to improve their odds of success.
Irlanda received guidance from career counselors and caring faculty and staff at every turn. During registration, Irlanda's advisor created an education plan to help her transfer to a four-year university. In addition to helping her choose a major, Irlanda's advisor offered several career paths to choose from after graduation.
"I've always enjoyed understanding the way people think," Irlanda says, "my advisor helped me find a fulfilling career that suits my interests and skills."
For Irlanda, the best part of her career journey has been inspiring her children to pursue higher education. Before Irlanda attended Compton College, her children weren't interested in going to college. Now, they enjoy going to campus with Irlanda while she works as a student worker, engages in campus activities, or provides student outreach.
"When I started college, I wanted to get a degree and a job. Now I want to continue my education and keep inspiring my children to have bigger dreams," says Irlanda.
For Irlanda, the most challenging part about furthering her education was lacking the resources she needed to get started. At Compton, she not only found the resources to get started, but also to finish. Now, she wants to give that support back to other students, especially single parents.
Today, Irlanda is completing a bachelor's degree in sociology at Cal State Dominguez Hills, with plans to become a counselor. Compton College gave Irlanda a dedicated community of resources, and now Irlanda has the education she needs to provide a nurturing home.
To students interested in pursuing a rewarding career, Irlanda says, do it for your family. "Going to college will change not only your life but the lives of everyone you love around you."