Latisha Aguilar: A Voice for Others
Latisha Aguilar '21 has always wanted to be a voice for special needs students when they couldn't use theirs and advocate for those who needed one. As a mother of four with a full-time job, she never let her dreams of getting her degree fade away – not only for her but for her family as well.
More Than a Number
As the only girl in her family, Aguilar said there was always an extra push during her childhood to go to college and get her degree. She had been working toward that goal for a long time, but obstacles kept getting in the way. Still, once a friend mentioned Southern New Hampshire University, everything changed.
"I was used to being treated like a number – just another person there on campus where you have to kind of feel around and find your own path and find your own help. Not with Southern New Hampshire (University)," Aguilar said. "They were always there, from the time I was applying to go to school there to the time I finished."
Aguilar has always wanted to work with children and hopes to become a middle school guidance counselor. She said finishing her degree later in life allowed her more time to figure out what she wanted to do with her education.
"Going through life and having my children and just really working different jobs, I was better equipped with knowing exactly where I wanted to be in life," Aguilar said. "So, that led me to Southern New Hampshire (University), where I knew I could finish up and still work and still take care of my family."
Saving Time and Money
When Aguilar first started her degree, she learned it could take about four years. But, because of her past attempts at college, Aguilar transferred close to 90 credits to SNHU. Not only did being able to transfer over credits save her time, but it also saved her money.
"If I would have had to complete all of the courses that I've gotten credit for at previous experiences, it would have definitely made me have to take out more student loans or anything like that," she said. "So, it definitely lowered the cost by being able to transfer those credits in."
"When I initially started at Southern New Hampshire University, I said I'm going to take one class at a time, just to get a feel for it," said Aguilar. "But, after the first module or after the first term was complete, I felt like I could do more."
With her transfer credits, her determination and the support she received, she was able to finish her bachelor's in psychology with a concentration in child and adolescent development in just two years.
Personal Experience Led to Advocacy, Education and Confidence
As a mother to a child with special needs, Aguilar has the experience and, now, the education to help students and their parents receive the best help they can get. "I feel like, who better to advocate for their student that has special needs than the mother of a child that has special needs?" she said.
In her current role as an interventions behavioral specialist, Aguilar works one-on-one with students with behavioral difficulties or other special needs to provide them with the best care possible to guide them through their day. "I feel like students in these situations, they need advocates," she said. "They need the support. The same type of support typical students need in a school setting – just a little bit more extensive."
Prior to her work as an interventions behavioral specialist, Aguilar worked as a classroom aide for mild to moderate special education. Her degree has given her the tools needed for her new line of work.
“My degree in psychology has helped me tremendously in the work that I do now,” said Aguilar. “It's also helped me in my personal role as a mother, but it's helped me in my career goal as well to better understand students, their development, the stages of life that they're in and what types of steps we should take to guide them or support them.”
She has had the experience but hasn't always had the confidence to speak her mind when it comes to her work. She has felt her confidence grow through her education.
"You know, before ... I didn't really make my voice heard because I felt like, well, these people have their degrees, and they have their credentials. Maybe I shouldn't say anything," Aguilar said. "But I feel like obtaining my degree has definitely given me a boost." She feels her education has not only helped her but her students and their families too.
Crushing Goals as a Family
Earning her degree was a goal Aguilar had not only for herself but for her family as well. While her family supported her efforts, her daughter Adryann really had her back. "I would just help around the house. I would do the laundry, sometimes I would wash the dishes, and I would make my siblings breakfast and make sure they got to class on time," her daughter said.
And, that extra support paid off.
"I was super proud of her when she would show me that she got an A on her test or something like that," Adryann said. "My mom is like my best friend, which kind of sounds crazy, but she is my best friend."
When Aguilar reached the end of her bachelor's program, and a diploma was in sight, she knew there was one thing she wanted – her family sharing in the moment. "When I open my diploma, I want my family around me the same way we started it is the same way we're going to finish it, together," Aguilar said.
Aguilar's educational journey isn't over. She hopes to start her master’s degree and pursue her dream of being a guidance counselor. She wants to continue to help others who need a voice, and she knows her family will be there every step of the way.
"Southern New Hampshire University has not only helped me reach my goal, but it's made my family feel like they were a part of me reaching my goal. I couldn't have asked for a better university or a better support system than Southern New Hampshire University," she said. "It was just an amazing experience, and I'm glad to have attended there. I would recommend it to anybody."
Consider how a bachelor's degree can change your life.
Alexa Gustavsen '21 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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