A girl with long black curly hair is wearing a red shirt that says "Foundation Mentor" and is smiling in front of a palm tree.
AWC student Yesenia Lizarraga is involved in a dizzying number of campus and community activities.

Thank You, Fellow Matador!

Where can a college student find the motivation to lay off of social media and instead choose to study that textbook with a chapter quiz due? How can he or she resist going out with friends on a payday or generally find the inspiration to succeed in an academic career?

Yesenia Lizarraga, a Yuma native attending Arizona Western College, has the answers you’re looking for. She didn’t have her success simply handed to her but instead persevered through unfathomable misfortune that took place at a young age. 

“I’ve always liked going to school,” she says. “I like being involved in my community.” 

Lizarraga downplays her achievements, but she is nostalgic about them and is pleased to have experienced a world outside of her own.

 Her extensive involvement with the community and academic clubs in high school alone includes HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America), JSA (Junior State of America) and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination). For SkillsUSA, she competed at the regional, state and national levels for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for firefighting. She also has racked up more than 300 hours of volunteering at Yuma Regional Medical Center. 

Her ambitious attitude didn’t happen overnight, though. She has overcome great adversity, continuing forward with amazing perseverance.

At the age of 7, Lizarraga found 31 percent of her body in flames due to an explosive can being thrown into a bonfire at her grandmother’s home. In response, administrators at her elementary school encouraged her to participate in presentations on the subject, and she grew to appreciate lecturing. 

“I like educating people ever since my burn injury,” said Lizarraga. “There were assemblies presented that stressed the importance of fire prevention.”  

Due to her growing love for teaching, she declared as an Elementary Education major at AWC. In general, she always finds a way to keep busy, between the Matador Ambassadors, the KEYS Student Advisory Council (KSAC) and Rotaract, which is partnered with the Somerton and San Luis Rotary Club.

“The Rotary Club is service to better oneself, get involved in community events and help out in any way possible at local events,” said Lizarraga. “For KSAC, we discuss volunteering events and group activities for KEYS members.”

Matador Ambassadors is an organization that helps people with the registration process, including applications for federal financial aid (FAFSA) and the 2020 Yuma Promise.

“We’re an extension of the registration team located at the 3C Building,” she said.  

Lizarraga somehow found the willpower to balance her schoolwork, her extracurricular activities and day job. For the future, Lizarraga strives to start out teaching in Arizona and then to branch out across the country.   

This AWC student is a classic example of what hard work can accomplish. Lizarraga’s diligence has brought her opportunities for encountering diverse groups of people from around the world, and her persistence in fulfilling her goals will bring her closer to her dreams.

Everyone can take inspiration from this fellow Matador.

Share this article