By Joanna P. Uriostegui
Martha Vargas’ family left Guadalajara, Mexico after her mother was diagnosed with cancer and given only three months to live. Her mother’s death pushed her to achieve the impossible.
“The fact that I was the oldest and I had younger sisters propelled me to go to school,” Vargas said.
Transferring out of Santa Ana College requires knowledge, and many students need guidance to successfully transfer.
Vargas has been a counselor for 15 years. She spends hours helping students by answering questions about where and how to transfer.
Although she doesn’t remember the name of the high school counselor who first inspired her, she does remember the wise words about education being free in the U.S. He inspired her to become a mentor, while motivating her to offer the same advice to struggling students finding opportunities to grow.
“That man changed my life,” Vargas said.
Vargas, who received her bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences at Cal Poly Pomona and master’s at Cal State Fullerton, decided to become counselor, a job that she says makes her energized and happy working with students. She loves teaching especially one-on-one, in order to create a bonding relationship to help others achieve their dreams.
“I just love working with students, and I love seeing people that have potential developing that potential,” she said.
Vargas has traveled through Europe, visiting countries such as Italy and Spain. She was a translator at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and the 1994 World Cup in the U.S., and recalls that the best part was translating for Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Dufresne during interviews with Bolivian soccer players.