In May 2020, Compton College alumna and mother of three Irma Leyva earned a bachelor's degree in human services with a concentration in mental health recovery from California State University, Dominguez Hills a decade after becoming a teen mother the same year she graduated from Paramount High School. Now, she has plans to help her community with mental health recovery after earning a master's degree. She is currently applying to master's programs at the California State University campuses in Dominguez Hills and Long Beach. She is considering a career as a social worker or a psychotherapy counselor.
"I want to help my community and the population that suffers from mental illness," said Leyva. "The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting adults, children and babies' mental well-being, and I want to be part of the solution."
She graduated from Compton College in 2018 with an Associate of Science for Transfer (AS-T) degree in administration of justice and an associate degree in general education with an emphasis in social and behavioral science. She also earned a teaching assistant permit from Compton College.
Leyva initially decided to attend Compton College in 2014 because the campus is conveniently located near her home and offered flexible class times allowing her to work and spend time with her daughter during the day and attend classes at night. The small campus environment kept her from feeling overwhelmed and it even began to feel like her second home. "There are so many resources available and the faculty and staff go out of their way to help students," she said. "I never felt like I had to face any challenges alone because of the support I received from my Compton College family."
The support offered by Compton College helped Leyva pursue her goals. When she decided to focus on her studies full time, she received financial aid and benefits from the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) and Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) programs that she needed to ease the challenge of completing a college education while raising a family. "I have to thank the EOPS/CARE program at Compton College for helping me achieve my goals," said Leyva. "There were several times I wanted to give up. If it was not for the free assistance and counseling services, I would not be where I stand in life now."
Leyva is a student worker and peer mentor for the state-funded EOPS/CARE program; a position she has held for the past four years. She welcomed the opportunity to become part of a staff that is so supportive to her and her fellow students.