By Intern Abigail Gomez

“I have always been passionate about learning.” At a very young age, Lydia CdeBaca, College Associate for the ACC Ascender program, wanted to be a teacher. By her junior year in high school, she was determined that that was what she wanted to study and although she had made up her mind, this decision came with many opinions that she did not expect. “I’m not going to be paying all this money for you to go to school, just so you can be a teacher.” This was what her stepfather at that time told her “He just thought I was going to be poor all my life,” CdeBaca said. Many other family members and friends had their opinions as well, viewing a teaching position as a low job. Fortunately, her mother always had her back, and CdeBaca kept pushing on to reach her dream. Her hardships did not end there though.

She went on to pursue her college dreams at Boston University in a 2-year elite program and when she arrived, she really felt like an outsider. “I was the only Chicana, only working-class person, that I could tell, and I was the only person from the deep south,” she said, “While my classmates were on ski trips with their families during the break, I would be wondering if I could even afford a plane ticket back home.”

CdeBaca continued her college education at UT-Arlington, where in her junior year, she received a flyer from one of her professors to apply for the McNair scholars’ program which was for first-generation, low income, and minority students who wanted to go into academia.  She applied and luckily got in.

CdeBaca eventually got her Bachelor’s degree and transferred smoothly to graduate school thanks to the McNair Scholar Program. She now has earned her doctorate degree and has been teaching for fifteen years. Her current positions are as a community college professor at Austin Community College, Program Coordinator for the Mexican and Chicano studies program, and instructor for the Ascender Program.

She is also a mom of two little boys to whom she is teaching the value of a great education. When asked what

she aspires to be, she said, “I am what I aspire to be.”

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