Single mom on mission to make college dream a reality

As a single mother of two young daughters with a full-time job, Andrea Viteri felt overwhelmed at the idea of going back to school—she could not see a possible path until she discovered the Pete Suazo Business Center and was awarded a scholarship. She is now on her way to becoming the first person in her family to be a college graduate.

Viteri credits Silvia Castro, executive director of the Suazo Business Center, as the reason she found the resource, which is committed to the development and empowerment of the Latino/Hispanic and other underserved communities. The center provides assistance to help existing and potential minority entrepreneurs succeed and build wealth. In Anderson’s case, it was a $5,000 scholarship to Western Governors University (WGU).

“Silvia is the reason I found the Suazo Business Center. As I followed her career online, I became aware of her role at the center and how she supports and helps minorities gain the right tools to succeed and grow to their full potential,” Viteri said. “It is always incredibly motivating to see her in action. I asked her about the different programs Suazo has since I am a minority myself. She told me about WGU and how college was a possibility even with my challenges.”

Viteri received the Community Outreach Partnership Scholarship, which was specifically created for community serving institutions to support higher education among community members, said Ismar Vallecillos, WGU regional director for Utah operations.

“Andrea was selected because of her financial need and her determination to improve her situation in life. She is a great example of the students we serve and the type of student the scholarship was created for,” Vallecillos said. “There is no doubt in my mind that she will successfully graduate as a healthcare coordinator and not only improve her job but shine as an example to her daughters.”

Viteri will continue to work fulltime as a certified medical assistant in urgent care while she pursues her bachelor’s degree in Science in Health Services Coordination and plans to graduate in March 2025.

“It is so important for me to receive my degree in order for me to be taken seriously and receive the appropriate salary for my knowledge and efforts with any employer,” she said.  “The WGU program lets you work on your degree online and take classes at your own speed, which is ideal for me with my work and home life.”

For Viteri, this dream is deeply connected to her two daughters, who are 10 and 11 years old.

“I’m a single mother of two magnificent daughters, who are incredibly smart and quick-witted. They are my motivation and inspiration to keep going. There have been days where I have broken down and cried hysterically and felt defeated,” Viteri said. “Ariana and Alessandra turn to me and to say, ‘I know you’re scared to not finish your classes on time, but you have taught me and sissy to face our fears, so give us a hug and keep going!’ These moments make me realize how much they watch and listen to me, and I need to show them that hard work will get you places.”