She was an adopted child who not only faced financial problems but was once homeless, living in a shelter.
Now, Sonoma State University junior Constance Bravos has a 3.61 grade average and won the William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement, picking up the $3,000 scholarship that comes with it.
Recipients of the award have overcome challenging odds to pursue a college
"Asthma has proven to be one of my most prominent and consistent struggles throughout my life. It made my lungs collapse when I was six," says Bravos, 20, who is from Martinez but now lives in Rohnert Park while she attends school.
Bravos lost her home when she was ten, and says it took five years to find a home and see her life get back on track. "You could say it was because my parents didn't graduate to go on to college in order to make a better living wage and not have to rely on their parents to help them with a house," Bravos says.
"But really, I just remember being ten and receiving the two weeks notice and coming to the realization that my life was going to be different and difficult."
During school Bravos feared being teased because she was homeless and so she had only a few select friends that did not know her past.
"Instead of focusing on my peers and my struggles, I began to expedite my energy toward school and my future," Bravos says.
Bravos is a psychology major looking forward to graduating in 2010. Because of her own hardships, she wants to make a difference as a psychologist for Martinez's Juvenile Hall after completing her degree at UC Berkley where she plans to study counseling and psychology.
She already has worked toward this goal by being a peer mentor and a teaching assistant at SSU, helping the freshman class become more aware of college opportunities. She is involved in the Educational Opportunity Program, Future Scholars, among others.
Bravos feels blessed by the award.
"I feel honored in knowing that my life and goals are being recognized for their true worth. It's an indescribable feeling to come from a history of being a part of one of the most forgotten populations - the homeless - to end up becoming someone who is not only remembered, but awarded for my efforts," she says.
- Cheyenne Kent-Welling