From Peru with promise

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Roxana SevillaWhen Roxana Sevilla, 24, wasn’t paying attention in math class as a child in Trujillo, Peru, she was drawing pictures of dresses and corsets. She didn’t know that the pleasant distraction would someday become part of her education at Salt Lake Community College.

Sevilla’s father and uncle left Peru in 2005 and came to the United States in search of better lives for their families, working hard and sending money back home. After finishing high school in Peru, Sevilla, studied to become a nutritionist, with an eye toward working with children in a rural clinic in that country.

In 2012, her plans changed and she and her mother and one of two siblings moved from Peru to South Salt Lake. She found a waitress job at a Peruvian restaurant in West Valley City and began taking English classes at Horizonte Instruction and Training Center in Salt Lake City. In 2013, she enrolled in reading and writing classes at Salt Lake Community College.

Sevilla learned about the SLCC Fashion Institute at the College’s Library Square Campus and reconnected with the little girl who liked to draw. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is a great opportunity. I’m young. I can give it a try.’ When something gets difficult, you can get frustrated and give up. But with this, I keep going. I like it.”

There was one problem: money to pay for college. Her father had been helping pay for school, along with a Pell grant. But the federal grant wasn’t enough, and she preferred that her father use his money for other needs.

She saw an announcement about SLCC Promise on her student-account webpage, applied and is now one of hundreds of students for whom tuition and fees are covered.

Sevilla’s father still drives a truck, hauling potatoes, turkeys, cheese — and her mother is working as a certified nursing assistant, but they no longer have to shoulder the burden of Sevilla’s education.

When she’s not working or going to school full time, Sevilla helps her parents take care of her little brother, who has cerebral palsy. She plans on getting married next year and starting a new life with her fiancé in South Jordan. She has a dream to one day own a clothing manufacturing business in the U.S.