For Amy Murillo, an incoming transfer student from Citrus College, the words, “you can’t do it,” only fueled her determination to get to Cal Poly Pomona.
Joining nearly 4,200 transfer students starting their first semester on campus at Cal Poly Pomona, Murillo will be studying sociology with an emphasis in criminology.
Finishing What She Started
While attending classes at Citrus College in 2012, Murillo found out she was pregnant with her first child. She paused her education to raise her son Johnny Murillo III and then her daughter, Jasmine Murillo, who was born in 2016.
“I stopped going to school to take care of my kids, and it was really difficult for me to go back, she said. “But when my husband enrolled at Citrus College, he told me to go back and finish what I had started.”
According to Murillo, the thought of returning to school was a scary decision. At the time her son was 4 and her daughter was 1.
“An advisor told me how it was nearly impossible for me to be able to graduate in two years with two young children, and that I shouldn’t get my hopes up,” Murillo said.
Instead of being discouraged, she relied on her family’s support to start classes, and enrolled in Citrus College in fall 2017.
Double the Homework
By day, Murillo was a stay-at-home mother and by night, she was a first-generation college student. While she juggled her own assignments, she made time to help her son with his homework when he started kindergarten.
“There were many times when I had to take my kids to school because I had to print out a homework assignment, meet with a counselor or buy school material,” Murillo said.
According to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research, 22 percent of all college undergraduates are parents. Murillo believes being a student parent gave her the focus she needed to get through school.
“I have two beautiful little kids who look up to me,” Murillo said. “I wake up every single day with them on my mind, and they are the reason why I never give up on my goals.”
Of the 3.8 million students who are raising children while in college, roughly 70 percent are mothers. Although her children adjusted well to Murillo being absent in the evenings, she remembers how difficult it was to sacrifice time with her children.
“My parents would tell me that my kids asked, ‘What time is Mommy coming home?’” Murillo said. “It would break my heart, because the hardest part was not spending time with them.”
Murillo gives credit to her parents for giving her strength, resiliency and motivation to finish school for her kids. Murillo’s mother left school after elementary and her father did not attend college.
“My parents sacrificed so much for me and my brother and I’m working hard so I can one day pay them back for everything they have ever done for me,” she said.
And with all of the sacrifices of being a student parent, Murillo says she persevered to show her children that furthering their education is important and that there is no age limit to attend school.
Becoming a Bronco
Against all odds, Murillo graduated in spring 2019 with her associate degree in administration of justice.
“I want to show my kids to never give up on their goals and their dreams no matter how little or big, and that I will always be there to support them,” Murillo said.
In the fall semester, Murillo will continue her studies in criminology at Cal Poly Pomona.
“Cal Poly Pomona was my first choice and it was the first university that accepted me,” said Murillo. “I honestly feel like I was meant to be here.”