Maria Ortega is a second-year student in the Administrative Assistant program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wisconsin. After gaining U.S. citizenship, Maria became a first generation college student. Maria actively seeks out leadership roles and currently serves as a student ambassador for the College. She also works in the Educational Foundation and Student Involvement offices, utilizing her administrative skills to serve other students. Outside of her formal studies, Maria provides administrative support to a local organization, Casa Alba Melanie, serving the Hispanic Community in the greater Green Bay area. She also recently served as a mentor and advocate for teenage mothers through programming at a local high school. Maria is a member of the NWTC Hispanic Leadership Club, and promotes diversity as an asset to the community. Maria envisions a community of inclusion, and considers herself a living example that anyone can succeed despite obstacles.
While attending Green Bay East High School, I participated in the Teen Age Parent Program where I found myself connecting with other teen parents. I often found myself empathizing with the other student's challenges and struggles, and encouraging them to continue on to graduation. As a first generation college student, I've returned as a volunteer and use my story and experience to mentor and encourage young parents. My goal is to help the students understand that education is the way to success, and to give our little ones role models to look up to.
When I find myself struggling to balance family, education and work; I know that the only way to move forward is to embrace the challenges, find support, and learn the skills needed to succeed. For example, I have always struggled with public speaking. This is one of the reasons why I sought volunteer opportunities like Casa Alba Melanie, which is a Hispanic resource center where I had the opportunity to serve on a panel called Connecting Our Communities from Around the World. From my experiences serving the community my public speaking skills have improved, as well as my confidence. I aspire to one day share my story of overcoming adversity in front of thousands of people, and I want to encourage others to get involved in the community.