A Lesson in Overcoming Obstacles

Student Success Story

By Jenny Faubert

It’s a story that’s all too familiar. When everyone says you can’t do it, what do you do? Some young adults believe what they’re told and give up. But not Ana Elias, whose biggest obstacle became her greatest motivation. Many people around her believed she would not graduate from high school, let alone attend college. Surrounded by gang activity, Ana refused to let her circumstances deter her from her goals. While people around her were dying violently or going to jail, Ana instead chose to focus on her family and distance herself from the negativity of others.

In high school, Ana joined the speech and debate team and took AP classes. Helping her prepare for college, Ana participated in her high school’s Puente Program, which helps educationally disadvantaged students earn college degrees and return to the community as mentors and leaders. Ana became the first in her immediate family to graduate high school and attend college.

Ana attends Western Career College in San Leandro, CA, where she is involved in the mentor program. After all she’s been through, she wants to help other students succeed. In this program, Ana and a group of students discuss the needs of the student body at meetings and bring them to the higher-ups for discussion.

“We are the voice of the students,” Ana said.

Ana maintains a 4.0 GPA and is studying to become a medical assistant.

“Ana is a standout and true leader,” said Mr. Jerrell Lewis, instructor at Western Career College. She took on the responsibility of clinical coordinator and was responsible for setting up and running a full clinical experience, supervising 20 students during her clinical skills practical week.

“I love the hands-on work and being able to help people,” Ana said.

After graduation this month, Ana hopes to get a medical assisting externship. She wants to continue helping people by one day becoming a nurse at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland or Highland General Hospital in Oakland.

“She loves to succeed at everything she does,” said George Gilbert, medical assisting instructor at Western Career College. “She refuses to become another statistic.”

Not many people, especially young adults, overcome the obstacles Ana has. She is a true inspiration to thousands of students who are in similar situations and trying to come out on top.