Compton College Student Wins Soroptimist "Live Your Dream"

Photo of Elizabeth Nunez Rivas

Compton College student Elizabeth Nunez Rivas was recently honored with a first-place "Live Your Dream" Award and $2,500 scholarship presented by Soroptimist International of Long Beach. The award recognizes women residing in local cities who are working to raise living standards for their families through better employment prospects. Recipients may use the scholarship funds toward any cost associated with their educational pursuits including tuition, books, childcare and transportation.

"This is the first award I have ever received, and it is a sweet reward after all of the struggles I have had to overcome," said Rivas.

Rivas had always planned to go to college. She was the captain of the swim team and graduated with honors from Bell High School in 2004. When she became pregnant at the age of 17, she was forced to put her educational and career goals on hold. She is now the mother of four children ages 12, 10, 7 and 4. Her oldest has been diagnosed with autism and epilepsy, and, in addition to caring for a child with special needs, she also assists her aging parents.

"My kids motivated me to go back to school and my 10-year-old daughter is especially helpful and supportive," said Rivas. "She tells me that I deserve to do this for myself and that I am strong. Her encouragement helps me to overcome many obstacles."

Rivas is on track to graduate from Compton College with an associate degree in 2018 and plans to transfer to earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and social behavior. Her future plan is to enter the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Academy.

Rivas is thankful for the many support services available at Compton College that have enabled her to "live her dream" of completing college. She takes advantage of financial aid, the CalWORKS program, and the math, reading and writing centers in the Student Success Center. She praises the Compton College faculty for being relatable and treating their students like family. "It is hard, but not impossible, to achieve your dreams," said Rivas. "If you have a dream, you should not ignore it."

Soroptimist International clubs are nonprofit organizations that work to improve the lives of women through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. Each year $1.6 million is awarded to more than 1,600 women in Soroptimist's 19 member countries and territories.

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