Center for Access & Attainment > About > Student Profiles > Valentina Gonzalez
Psychology and Spanish major
Graduated from Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago, Ill.
"I grew up in Little Village, a predominately Mexican neighborhood in Chicago that isn't considered to be one of the best neighborhoods. But my local elementary school was awesome. I had a great teacher in the seventh grade gifted program who really believed in my class. She told us that we didn't get have to go to Farragut (our neighborhood high school) but that we could go to the selective enrollment schools around the city. She encouraged me to apply to Curie Metro High School and said that I could do well there and I agreed, so I applied and enrolled.
"I was a little overwhelmed when I first got to Curie. I didn't think I was as prepared as the other students who were in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program with me. My freshman algebra class was so hard — I failed the first quarter of the class. That was a very hard time for me, but I went to tutoring and eventually got an A in the class. When I had challenging times in the IB program, I remembered my experience with the algebra class and I reminded myself that I had what it took to succeed.
"My IB coordinator, Ms. Sharyl Barnes, was really inspiring and motivating. She would say that IB was like a job we had in high school that we didn't get paid for but would receive the benefits in college. That really stuck with me. We learned about the college credit we would earn and that was exciting, but experiencing the actual program in high school had a much greater impact on me. I can see the effects in my college work all the time because I've become a better writer and am able to manage my work a lot better.
"Earning the IB Diploma was one of my proudest moments. I graduated number three in my high school class. And I see how much it has benefitted me, especially with college credits — I'm considered a junior at DePaul but I'm only in my second year. I feel that the IB program also gave us a really great sense of community. My IB teachers keep in contact with us even now that we are in college. On Facebook, we have a Curie IB alumni group where we can network with other students who have graduated."
"I always thought that I would go away for college and be a really independent person. But in reality, my family is close knit and I didn't want to be too far away, especially since I had a sister who was expecting a baby and I wanted to be near my nephew. So I decided to stay in the city and come to DePaul. DePaul was always one of my college options. DePaul has small class sizes and I have close relationships with my professors. This is important for me since I came from the IB program where I was used to having close interactions with my teachers. I still feel like I have gained more life experience as a college student even though I live at home because I explore the city and travel between campuses. DePaul has been a really great experience so far.
"I'm thinking of going to graduate school for psychology. I'm hoping to get a master's degree in psychology and work as a school counselor. I really like how children's minds work and how they behave. I know how smart kids are and would like to help them be their best."