This Latina Had All Odds Stacked Against Her And Persevered

Photo: Patricia Jaimes

This is a story of dedication, of family, of challenges and opportunities, but most of all, this is a story of love.

Patricia Jaimes was the first one in her family to go to college. She is a first generation Latina whose parents worked really hard all their life to make sure their five kids could have an education and a better life. And they succeeded.

But Patricia’s story is not your regular “first-one-to-go-to-college” one. She’s proven there is no challenge too big for her and she has enough determination to move mountains.

Patricia always knew she was going to go to college. When she got pregnant in her junior year of high school, some people assumed this was going to be the end of her education. Patricia says this never even crossed her mind. Yes, she would be a teen mom, but with the support of her partner and their families, this was just another step of the way.

Born and raised in Chicago, she graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a Bachelor in Earth Science. Today Patricia is finishing her doctoral program in Geology and Geocognition at Michigan Sate University. When she started her graduate program, she was the only Latina in her department.

Photo: Patricia Jaimes

The path hasn’t been easy. Patricia has learned how to balance parenting a disabled child, studying hard and working several jobs to make ends meet. She makes it all happen seamlessly, making it sound like it’s not a big deal.

Patricia was awarded the Café Bustelo® El Café del Futuro Scholarship. This allowed her to pay for a part of her studies without sacrificing other funds to cover therapies and medical bills for her daughter’s treatment.  

For her, there is always a way. A way to get into college, a way to get financial aid, a way to find scholarships, a way to find jobs with flexible schedules, a way to follow her dream.

All her academic success has not been a one woman show. She is very grateful to all of her advisors, teachers and mentors for always guiding her. As the first one to go to college in her family, she relied on them for school advice that her parents could not offer her.

Patricia applied for federal student aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). She recommends every student apply for FAFSA and checks their student portal regularly to make sure they don’t miss critical information, since it’s a complicated process that can get confusing. She also recommends keeping important documents organized and handy. This way, if FAFSA officials need any additional information the financial aid won’t be delayed. 

Patricia recommends always visit the schools you are applying to and see if you really see yourself there. Research about the supports you will need and see if the school has them. Before you accept any offer, go check out the campus and see if it feels right for you.

Photo: Patricia Jaimes

Her advice for Latino students who want to go to college is to look for funding, apply for scholarships and take advantage of all the opportunities that come along your way. So take her advice: research and take advantage of all the tools out there for Latinos.

There are so many ways to make it happen and you deserve them. Apply for the Café Bustelo® El Café del Futuro Scholarship. You can be one of the twenty recipients to receive $5,000 to help you with your college expenses. Click here to learn more about how to apply by May 24, 2019.

Patricia has big plans for her future. She would like to become the director of a science education program for the federal government. She also wants to raise awareness for Latinos with disabilities or families of Latinos with disabilities. She is happy that in Michigan she has found a community of families of kids with disabilities who can relate to her situation and also serve as a support group to her and her family.

Photo: Patricia Jaimes

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at