Stories of Excellence–Ingrid Arevalo
Ingrid Arevalo’s life has been a challenging journey. At only 20 years old, her personal struggles have been more than some individuals twice her age experience. She firmly believes she would not be where she is today without her family, her son, Mitchell Community College, and the many others who have helped her on her life journey.
The first in her family to graduate college, Arevalo grew up in difficult circumstances with unstable living conditions. At age 15, Arevalo found out that she was pregnant. With such a big decision in front of her, Arevalo was frightened and unsure of what path to take. “When you’re fifteen, your immediate reaction is that you are going to get an abortion. However, my mom encouraged me to have my son,” she shared. “I then though about giving my child up for adoption, but my aunt talked with me about the bond a parent has with their child and how special it is.” Ingrid’s pregnancy influenced her to–in her own words–“get her life together.” The experience completely changed her outlook on life. “Having my son Daniel was hard,” she said, “but it made me more determined. I now push myself to do more than what I think I can do and have accomplished so much.”
Although her life was forever changed, Arevalo managed to stay on track with her plan to graduate high school at 18. She came to Mitchell a few months later in August 2018. “Mitchell was affordable, close to home, and just a smart decision,” she noted. Her original goal was to become a lawyer, but after speaking with her advisor, Nanci Burt, about her career goals, Arevalo decided that human services would be the best fit for her.
Like many students, Arevalo worked while she continued her studies. Yet Arevalo was able to find a manageable work-life balance with the help of her instructors and peers. “My favorite thing about Mitchell was my personal connections with my professors and students,” she said. Having a small cohort of students in the human services program created a strong bond amongst classmates and instructors. Having a steady group of peers to learn and grow with was one thing Arevalo found very valuable. Required class presentations and feedback from instructors and peers grew Arevalo’s confidence as a public speaker. During her time at Mitchell, she has gained skills and polished abilities she never knew she had.
Despite her busy schedule, Arevalo also found time to give back to her community. She spearheaded Driving Out Hunger events in November and December 2020, working with Student Services to host several “drive-thru” food pantry events, distributing food to Mitchell students in need. The events were very successful, with 25 bags of food being distributed to students.
Arevalo officially finished her coursework for graduation in December 2020 with an associates in applied science degree in human services, and also a human services and substance abuse certificates. She plans to commute to UNC Charlotte to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Her ultimate career goal is to work for the Department of Social Services helping people in her community get the resources they need. One day, she hopes to open a private practice where she offers support to struggling teenagers who are pregnant or parents. “I am surprised I graduated,” she admits, “as several of my friends who had kids couldn’t do it and dropped out. I think teens in that situation lack support and they easily get in the mindset that they can’t do it. What we need to do is give them a new mindset that they can do it.”
While her journey thus far has not been easy, Arevalo is determined to make the most of her life and give back to support others in need. She encourages current and future Mitchell students to preserve and both seek and accept help when needed. “Don’t give up. Take it seriously,” she said. “I have enjoyed Mitchell and made personal connections with my teachers because they cared for me. Get to know your teachers! Get their advice. If you have questions, you will get the right answers at Mitchell.” With grit and determination, Arevalo now knows she can overcome any challenge that comes her way.
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