Valeria Gonzalez '19

–By Christy Wolff ’10

Valeria Gonzalez graduated with honors from the adult studies program at Trinity in May 2019. Getting to this point wasn’t easy, but with the support of her husband and her unwavering faith in God, Valeria set goals for herself and did whatever it took to meet those goals. 

After Valeria’s freshman year at Roosevelt University in Chicago, her family decided to move to Texas, putting Valeria’s schooling on hold. During this time, Valeria’s grandfather passed away, and her family made the decision to move back to their hometown of Chicago. Moving back and forth in a short span of time made it difficult to complete her degree – something Valeria desired to do. 

Two years later, Valeria received her associate’s degree from Malcolm X College in Chicago, and she knew she wanted to continue learning. At the same time, Valeria felt her relationship with God was deepening. “I wanted to do something where I felt I would continue to grow with God,” Valeria says. 

Seeking an evening program that would be more convenient for her schedule, Valeria inquired about the adult studies program at Trinity, and a representative contacted her in just a few days. Receiving this kind of timely and personal support helped Valeria realize that Trinity was the right decision. “God was opening doors for me and making this as easy as possible.” 

Valeria enrolled and began taking classes, but she was still unsure about how she would fit in with her classmates and whether she could graduate. She soon learned that the other 12 students in her program all had families, full-time jobs, homes to take care of, and — most importantly — each student had the common goal of receiving their degree, despite the different life events that had brought them together at Trinity. Knowing she was not alone and seeing others in a similar place provided an affirming strength and encouragement that would be needed as she worked to finish what she started years ago. 

“I remember a specific night in the middle of the program where I was so frustrated and stressed about my schoolwork. I was ready to quit. But then my husband read a letter to me from PresKurt Dykstra notifying me that I made the Dean’s List. It was these little moments that God placed in my life that helped me continue, she recalls. 

With just four classes left in her program, Valeria and her husband welcomed their daughter into their family. But determined to succeed, Valeria only missed one class during that semester – the day she gave birth. By the following week, she was back in the classroom and went on to finish her degree. 

Today, Valeria is entering her fifth year of mentoring young girls in her church. She recently took on the role of coordinating the entire program, and still has the flexibility to teach the girls firsthand. Valeria pulls directly from what she was taught at Trinity to create a customized curriculum for these girls. 

The first in her immediate family to get a degree, Valeria wanted to make her mother proud and show her that the sacrifices she made to provide for Valeria were appreciated. “I’m proud to be a part of Trinity to show others that adults can do it!” she says.