Mearli Orozco: A Florida National University Success Story

My name is Mearli Orozco and I am an American citizen but a native from Guatemala.  Guatemala is not one of the poorest countries in the world, but it is one of the most unsafe to live in.  Human trafficking, juvenile delinquency, and crime is at an all time high and the lack of opportunities for people that don’t have an education is almost a dreadful every day reality.  In March of 1984 my mother immigrated to the United States in hopes of finding the American dream; unfortunately, she could not bring me along.  Crossing the Mexican border was very challenging for those who wanted to illegally immigrate to United States; women were getting killed and raped, and children would get kidnap for human trafficking.   My mother decided not to bring me with her; instead she came to the United States alone and tried to find a safer way for us to be reunited.  For fourteen years my mom struggled to bring me to the U.S. until I finally made it at the age of sixteen.

I was overcome by exhilarated nervous energy when I made my way to the U.S.  I did not know what to expect.  My first four years in this country were the most challenging I’ve experienced in my life thus far. I started attending Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School in 9th grade and found myself confused and lost.  I had a daunting task in front of me – adapt to a new culture, new language, and new friends.  To make matters worse, I was being bullied by my math teacher and classmates because I didn’t speak English. I’d cry everyday trying to fit in while missing my friends back home.  Even though I felt incredibly sad, I was also very resilient and graduated from high school at the age of twenty and barely able to speak English.

In August of 2001, I decided to enroll at Miami-Dade College.  Some more rough years followed after taking numerous remedial courses that didn’t lead to the degree program I was seeking.  Consequently, I dropped college and worked full-time at Mc Donald’s.  Five years later a coworker mentioned Florida National University (FNU), formerly Florida National College.  FNU changed my life.   In March of 2008, I was officially a criminal justice student at FNU. I was very excited to reinitiate my education and I was very happy to find out that FNU focused more on getting students committed to earning a degree by limiting the number of remedial courses and reinforcing structure in their core courses. For the first time in my life I felt like I was doing something productive with my life.

During one unfortunate semester, my grades began to slip; I was feeling exhausted all the time, without energy, and sleepy.  I didn’t understand why I was feeling sick all the time.  That semester I was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 2 and high blood pressure. Everything fell apart; I was going through some emotional changes, feeling depressed and missing classes and at the end of that semester I earned an F. I felt ashamed, sad, disappointed, and upset.  However, I took the course again and passed it successfully.  That year, I completed my Associates degree with a 3.8 GPA!  I felt accomplished and so I decided not to stop there and enrolled into the Bachelor program at FNU.

This time around I set my goals early on into the program.  I wanted to be an example for others; and I also wanted to make my mother proud and show her that her efforts of bringing me to the U.S. were valuable to me.  I joined the Criminal Justice Honor Society at FNU where I attended trainings in my program, community service activities, and collaborated with community agencies to assist in projects such as working with children of incarcerated parents, anti-bullying programs, and awareness projects against domestic violence in the LGBTQ community.  Thanks to my valuable contribution to my institution and the community, the President of Florida National University, Mrs. Maria C. Regueiro granted me with a scholarship to continue on achieving academic excellence and community involvement.

I completed my Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree in the summer of 2012.  The long journey to attaining a college degree proved to be challenging but stimulating. It was a long journey but with the help of FNU’s faculty and staff I was able to achieve one of my goals.  I can wholeheartedly say that FNU changed my life completely.  It gave me the opportunity to believe in myself, to achieve my educational goals, and to contribute to my community. I made friends with a lot of students who shared some of my past experiences.  I was taught by excellent a faculty who I admire and acknowledge as role models. I also had the great opportunity to hold office in our local honor society chapter, Mu Zeta.  I was first the communications officer, and then held the office of the treasurer and I am currently the Vice-President and Secretary of our chapter.

For these opportunities, attained knowledge, and unforgettable experiences, I truly thank Florida National University for opening the doors to my future.  I know I made the right decision then and I know I am making a bigger and better decision to join FNU once more for my Masters in Business Administration.

Mearli Orozco Florida National University Graduate and Author

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