By Maria Villa
Living in the greater Palm Springs has its benefits, such as the weather, clean air and the terrific tourist shopping. But higher education is not one of them. Most four-year schools are in the greater Los Angeles Area.
So, as in my last semester at the local community college, College of the Desert, I was excited to transfer but wasn’t so thrilled by the options offered to continue my education.
As a journalism major, we don’t have closer options near home which leads many students who want to pursue journalism to have to move to the L.A area to continue their education. That meant that the schools I could continue my education were more than 100 miles away from where I lived.
Moving to the L.A area wasn’t an option for me since I didn’t know anyone there and I didn’t want to risk my job which gave good hours. Plus, the rent in the L.A area is too expensive to live on your own.
That’s why the Friday morning I received the big burgundy envelope containing an acceptance letter from California State University, Dominguez Hills was bittersweet. That moment was so special and exciting for my parents and I. But our rejoicing however, only lasted for a few minutes, as I soon realized it was 118 miles roundtrip from home.
But after talking it over with my parents, I decided to commute. My 2013 Toyota Corolla car was reliable and got good gas mileage.
My first day’s commuting was frustrating. I had to leave 2 ½ hours earlier just to get in time to my first class, and the freeways were packed, so I kept starting and stopping. At times, I merged into the carpool lane when there weren’t any cops driving by. I depended on my GPS most of the time since I didn’t know much of the L.A area. But there were times that I would get lost since I would focus on the road instead of the GPS and I missed the exits or got off on the wrong ones. My first months of commuting were so frustrating. There were times I felt like giving up and stop coming to CSUDH.
I still remember the first day in my media studies class, where we asked to introduce ourselves to our classmates. Many of the students complained about living in Orange County and the San Fernando Valley which, compared to my commute, didn’t seem far. I just rolled my eyes and thought, “those ungrateful people are exaggerating.”
But even though my drive has been exhausting and boring these past two years of my education at CSUDH, at least I did it, and I appreciate the opportunity that I got to continue with my education. I saved a lot of money this way rather than moving to L.A. It was an opportunity to stay close to my family. As the oldest of my six siblings, I want to inspire them that anything is possible, even if you must drive those extra miles for success.
In May 19, 2018, I will be graduating with my bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. My hard work and dedication and the commuting I had to do just to get to CSUDH and earn a degree has finally paid off.