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Cal State L.A. grad overcomes obstacles to achieve degree

May 22, 2014


Rosa Orellano

Rosa Orellana is intent on making a difference in people’s lives, and with her education from Cal State L.A., she is well on her way.

“It only takes one person to help lead an individual to a brighter future,” she said.

Rosa will achieve a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Cal State L.A. this spring.  However, Rosa’s path to success in college was not a simple one.

Determined and tenacious, she has overcome several challenges in her journey to becoming the first in her family to attend college -- not only did she become a mother while still a teenager, she was also the victim of domestic violence. 

A proud mother of three beautiful daughters, two of whom have learning disabilities, Rosa works patiently with them in their schooling, on top of working and staying focused on academic achievement and earning her degree

“I am thankful for the professors at Cal State L.A., such as Roseann Giarrusso, who have supported me every step of the way,” Rosa said, adding that she realizes the importance of a college education in providing a better future for her daughters. 

With a caring heart, Rosa also makes time to volunteer in her community, supporting patients at Valley Presbyterian Hospital and elementary school students at L.A.’s Best. 


“I want to give back, much like those who have helped me,” Rosa said.

Most recently, she worked with inmates at the California Institution for Men, tutoring them and giving them tools to become productive citizens.  At Cal State L.A., she helps out by serving as a note-taker to assist students with disabilities. 

After marching at the Cal State L.A. Commencement on June 15, she will continue with her academic journey in the master’s program in sociology here on campus.

“You know, I might even pursue my Ph.D. later on,” she added. "My goal is to inspire those from disadvantaged backgrounds that they also have an opportunity to pursue a higher education—and to be able to achieve a path to success.”


Links of interest:

Department of Sociology at Cal State L.A.: 

College of Natural and Social Sciences at Cal State L.A.:

Cal State L.A. Commencement: