Student Feature: Honoring Growth, Change, and Self-Validation with Adriana De La Rosa

“I’m very passionate about what I’m going to school for, and I owe it to myself to at least give myself credit for what I’ve gone through. This is my way of giving myself credit and not being so hard on myself, giving myself an education. Because I’ve always given myself less than I really deserve.”

Coastline College graduate Adriana De La Rosa
Coastline College Spring 2024 Graduate, Adriana De La Rosa.

With Coastline's 2024 Commencement Ceremony fast approaching, we want to highlight some of our graduating Dolphins who are graciously willing to share their stories and journeys with us here on The Coastline Blog. This week I had the honor of speaking with Coastline graduate Adriana De La Rosa! Adriana will be graduating with her A.A.T in Sociology and AA in Social & Behavioral Sciences. After graduation, she will be transferring to Cal State Dominguez Hills where she will pursue her bachelor’s in Psychology.

She’ll be sharing her story at the Coastline’s EOPS Banquet on May 29th, and though sharing makes her emotional, she recognizes the benefit of sharing with others, saying, “I do know and understand that if people are in my situation, in worse situations than me, or maybe not as bad–– I know that there are people that probably feel helpless, or they probably feel like they’re alone.”

Her passion for helping others through sharing her own story and personal experiences is evident. She hasn’t let her past choices define or hinder where she is today, and her inspirational, transformative journey is an exemplification of the significance of rooting for and honoring yourself through growth and change.

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Journey to Coastline

When she was arrested, Adriana was 21, a mother of two, and had just found out she was four weeks pregnant with her third child. “When I went to jail, I was fighting a life sentence case,” she says. “I didn’t ever think I was going to come home.”

Her personal experience is a driving force for why she pursued and will be graduating with degrees in both Sociology and Social and Behavioral Sciences from Coastline. “I’ve had a lot of childhood trauma, and I was the type of person who would run away from my trauma and do things to cover the pain. That’s what led me to be around people that caused me to go to prison.”

While in prison, she was faced with the impact the decisions she had made had on her children, and while she spoke to her children daily, other women were surprised by her. “They would say, “You talk to your kids every day? That’s crazy.” And that always stood out to me. I was like, you know what, us women, we forget we made mistakes, we made selfish decisions to get us where we were at, regardless of if we’re at fault or not.” She explains. “We made selfish decisions to take us away from our kids and we want people to feel sorry for us, but we’re forgetting what our kids are going through out there.”

Adriana's three children
Adriana's three children. (Image provided by Adriana De La Rosa)

Adriana started attending Coastline in the spring semester of 2022, after being introduced to the college by one of the advisors in prison. As someone who has experienced childhood trauma and went to prison young, the importance of understanding the plights of young people and helping them early on before their struggles progress into adulthood isn’t lost on Adriana, which is why she chose to enter this field of study. “…I feel like that’s where people need to catch it. So that it doesn’t affect their early adulthood. Whatever is going to affect your early adulthood is what’s going to affect you later on. I feel like I’ve caused my kids so much pain and they’ve gone through so much. I have to sit here and take accountability because they have gone through the stuff they’ve gone through in their life because of my decisions. It’s all my personal experiences that cause me to want to study this field.”

Experience at Coastline

When Adriana came to Coastline, she was unaware that programs that she is now a part of, like EOPS and the CARE program, were offered by colleges. While she doesn’t remember how she got into EOPS, she does remember meeting counselor Claudia Mojica for the first time, who she regards as her main supporter throughout her experience at Coastline. Within her first semester, she went through a custody battle, and three weeks after she came home from prison, she went through the passing of her grandmother who raised her. “It’s been a roller coaster. Claudia, words will never describe how much I appreciate her,” she says. “She’s always going to have a place in my heart.”

Adriana's grandmother
Adriana's grandmother. (Image provided by Adriana De La Rosa)

Through Claudia, she became connected with others in the college whom she built strong relationships with despite having never met them in person until recently due to being a distant learner. Three weeks ago, she began a Federal Work-Study position in Coastline's EOPS and CalWORKs office, and though she lives three hours away, she’s dedicated to showing up in person. “They have it where students could work remotely,” she says. “But I told them I want the experience in person because I feel like that’s my only way of showing them that I appreciate them and all the support they’ve given me.”

She also expresses gratitude for the doors opened for her by academic success coach Yesenia, who always ensured she was given resources that helped her. She’s never turned down an opportunity given to her, she says, which led her to join Coastline's Associated Student Government (ASG) and sit in on the hiring committee for Vice-Chancellor after Yesenia suggested she join. “Every opportunity that somebody has given me, I took advantage and I have run with it because that’s the only way that I’m going to be able to move away from my past. That’s the only way I’m going to be able to grow.”

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Now, being home two years from prison, the growth Adriana has seen in herself since starting at Coastline is her ability to give herself more credit. “I used to be very hard on myself because I felt like me being hard on myself––I wouldn’t allow myself to make the same mistakes…One thing I’ve always dealt with is people always throwing my past in my face, and that’s the first thing that somebody wants to use over my head. I used to get angry with myself, and I had to learn to re-love myself even with the past that I come with and it’s very hard.”

Graduation and Future Plans

Come the end of May, Adriana will be celebrating her graduation with her children and boyfriend, which she says still comes as a shock to her. She’d taken statistics three times and other classes two times due to not being in the right state of mind, but now, she’s in a different headspace than she was in her first semester. Though there were challenges, and she found herself wanting to give up at times, she pushed herself to keep going. “I had to push myself. It couldn’t be the next person. I had to push myself and I had to know that if I did that, there’s going to be a better outcome and I was going to achieve my goals.”

Adriana and her boyfriend
Adriana and her boyfriend. (Image provided by Adriana De La Rosa)

After she graduates, she will be transferring to Cal State Dominguez Hills where she will be getting her bachelor’s in psychology. “I’ve already gotten into programs there. I’m getting into the Project Rebound program, and the Rising Scholars program there too. I’m very passionate about what I’m going to school for, and I owe it to myself to at least give myself credit for what I’ve gone through. This is my way of giving myself credit and not being so hard on myself, giving myself an education. Because I’ve always given myself less than I really deserve.”

For students who share the same background as her and are on the path to graduation, Adriana underscores the importance of seeking internal validation, instead of relying on the external. “We want validation from other people. We want to hear ‘You’re doing a good job,’ but I feel like when you wait for that, you’re letting yourself down, because you’re not going to always get that. I feel like most of all, don’t wait on anybody else for validation and just keep going. Don’t give up on yourself. You need your own self to accomplish your goals.”

Congratulations, Adriana! We at Coastline wish you a wealth of success in your future endevours! Be sure to check out more of our 2024 Graduate Highlights in the Student Features section.

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