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Through guidance from college faculty, support from her family and her own perseverance, Filipino immigrant and first-generation college student Almira Javier graduated with her associate degree in liberal arts with an emphasis in social and behavioral sciences.

In 2014, Javier and her family immigrated from the Philippines’ capital city of Manila to Santa Clarita and moved in with her grandfather. Although Santa Clarita has a large immigrant population — about 20 percent of residents are foreign-born, according to U.S. Census Bureau data — Javier still faced bullying for her accent when she attended Hart High School.

“Making friends was hard,” Javier said. “I was bullied. I realized people were using me to do homework and errands. It was a bummer.”

However, Javier pushed forward, graduated from Hart and enrolled at College of the Canyons through the First-Year Program, which waives tuition and fees for first-year, full-time College of the Canyons students who are accepted into the program.

When Javier began her first semester at College of the Canyons, she was overwhelmed by the new environment. Javier credits her counselor Tony Law with helping her adjust to college life and pushing her to succeed.

“During my first week, I was freaking out and overwhelmed,” Javier said. “[Law] was so patient with me and gave me reassurance and told me about great on-campus resources like The Learning Center.”

In addition, English professor Alexandra Dimakos helped Javier advance her English skills and adjust to college life.

“She taught me that it’s okay to ask questions and make mistakes,” Javier, who was enrolled in Dimakos’s First-Year Experience class, said. “She recommended I watch TV shows with closed captioning so I can improve my English and listen to podcasts.”

Although faculty and staff like Dimakos provided Javier guidance, Dimakos highlights Javier’s own persistence as key to the 19-year-old student’s success.

“[Javier] stood out to me because she was the only student in class who took the initiative to speak to me frequently after class and ask me for guidance on a variety of topics like how she can improve her English skills, study strategies for earning a high grade in her biology class, creating course schedules for future semesters and getting more involved on campus,” Dimakos said. “It was clear she was genuinely invested in her education and her own success and she was willing to go above and beyond to reach her goals.”

While attending College of the Canyons, Javier also worked the evening shift at Marshall’s and volunteered for over 200 hours at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s Definitive Observation Unit.

“I had lots of support from my parents,” Javier said, explaining how she managed to handle all of her responsibilities.

As for her future plans, Javier will be applying to College of the Canyons’ nursing program and hopes to put the $500 LaVerne Harris Memorial scholarship that she has been awarded toward her nursing studies. When asked about why she wants to go into nursing, Javier cites her grandfather, who passed away due to a heart attack two years ago, as her inspiration. She became close to him when her family moved to Santa Clarita and she started helping his nurses treat his diabetes, which increased Javier’s interest in medicine.

“Everything I do, I do it for him,” Javier said.

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Filipino immigrant Almira Javier persists through bullying, language barriers to graduate from College of the Canyons
Article Name
Filipino immigrant Almira Javier persists through bullying, language barriers to graduate from College of the Canyons
Through support from her family and faculty and through her own perseverance, Filipino immigrant Almira Javier graduated from College of the Canyons.
Publisher Name
The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer
Brianna Bricker

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