When Rosa Nuñez first started to think about returning to school, she was told that it would take her about two years to learn English, complete her high school diploma, and take off in a career path of her choosing.
“At first, I felt really disappointed, because I thought two years was a really long time, but then my teacher, Miss Veronica, told me something. She told me that those two years will pass either way. She said if I do nothing, then nothing will change – and in two years, I will wake up right where I was then…or she told me I could do something, and after the two years were up I would be moving forward,” Rosa said.
Rosa always remembers her teacher’s words, because that moment was what made her decide to commit herself to her education. Now, two years later, Rosa has completed her high school diploma and has scheduled her exam with the State Board for cosmetology.
“I chose cosmetology not because I wanted to earn money or something like that,” Rosa said. “I chose it because I like to make people feel good about themselves. When some people come in, they might feel down, but as soon as they sit down and you start talking to them you see their expressions start to change. They become more confident.”
Rosa recognizes that each and every person must have confidence in themselves in order to reach their full potential. Therefore, she hopes that through cosmetology she will be able to instill this confidence in those who may have never found it.
With self-confidence, we are able to do great things, Rosa said.
“If you want to do something, you will need to work hard and never give up. Even if other people tell you that you can’t do it, you can’t listen to them. You have to keep going and do it anyways,” she said. “Don’t let anyone stop you from reaching your goals.”
Rosa admits that it is not easy, and that sometimes the world tries to bring you down, but she says this is why self confidence is so important – because if you know what you are capable of and what you are worth, nothing else matters.
“Sometimes there were people who told me, ‘You can’t do it,’ ‘It’s too hard,’ or things like that, but I just laughed and I said, ‘Don’t tell me what to do. I know what I want to do, and I’m going to do it,’” Rosa said.
Rosa, who moved to the United States in 1995, said she never thought this day would come. She worked countless hours in minimum wage jobs – as a housekeeper, in factories, you name it. Now, Rosa feels empowered to have the opportunity to work in career that she loves.
“I will be able to make people feel strong and good about themselves, and that makes me very excited,” she said.
Rosa attributes her success to her own positivity and perseverance, but also to the support of her family and teachers.
“I really like being here because the teachers here are really supportive. They encourage students to keep going and to do something with their lives,” Rosa said. “Highlands has really good programs and we, as students, have to take advantage of the programs that are offered here.”