Transiciones Success Stories

Dreams of Law School Inspire Academic Success

Alma Romero De Ruiz Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) student and Miller Scholar Alma Romero De Ruiz paid careful attention when she became a U.S. citizen. So much so, according to her husband, Eliseo Ruiz, that she decided to pursue a career in immigration. Today, she is enrolled in the MHCC Criminal Justice Administration program with hopes of transferring to law school and eventually working with refugees. "She's passionate about it," her husband explains. "That's her goal. I told her to just keep on working on your schoolwork. So far, we've managed to do so."

"I picked criminal justice as my major because anything related with the enforcement of law is very interesting to me," De Ruiz says. "I am not yet sure which law school to choose, but my adviser will help me make a good decision."

So far, her MHCC adviser and instructors have helped her make many good decisions. "Staff is very helpful and supportive," she says. "Elizabeth Perry is the person who has supported me the most." Perry leads the MHCC Transiciones program, a career planning and college preparation program for Latina single parents and homemakers.  It is specifically designed for Latina women who are studying English. "From the beginning, she showed me the path, step-by-step, to reach my goal," De Ruiz says. "I am so thankful to her."

She is also very thankful for the financial assistance provided by the Miller Scholarship, which was funded by the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, an independent, private organization established to enhance the quality of life of Oregonians through support of the arts and education. The mother of three young girls, De Ruiz used the funds to help cover tuition, childcare expenses, school supplies and rent. "We are going through hard times; however, I don't think that's an excuse to stop. I have always wanted to have a career.  When I lived in Mexico, it was impossible for my dream to come true since life there is even harder. This country has given me opportunities. I am going to use all of them wisely."

The Miller Scholarship was funded as a result of the Miller Foundation’s $1.5-million challenge grant offering to match new scholarship funds raised by Oregon’s 17 community colleges. MHCC Foundation raised more than $120,000 in the 2009-2010 academic year and will receive a matching amount from the Miller Foundation. The Miller Scholarship Challenge has just been announced for a third consecutive year and will provide dollar for dollar match for all new and increased MHCC scholarship gifts.

For more information on the Miller Scholarship Challenge or other ways to support the MHCC Foundation, call 503-491-7206, visit or e-mail

Student Receive Statewide Recognition for Academic Achievement and Community Service

Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) student Maria Zacarias was recognized for her academic success and community service when named as 2010 Oregon Community College Association (OCCA) Outstanding Student Scholars.    

Maria Zacarias is also on the Honor Roll and in Phi Theta Kappa. She is a volunteer at the Catholic Charities El Programa Hispano with the Gang Prevention Unit. Zacarias plans on transferring to Concordia University to pursue her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. Zacarias says, “School has always been a passion for me; it has helped me learn a lot about myself and has [enabled me to] grow as a person and pursue a career that will allow me to help others.”

The OCCA Outstanding Student Scholars Award is granted to students who display academic excellence, community involvement and contributions to the learning environment on campus. Recipients are eligible to receive a $1,000 scholarship upon transferring to a four-year university. This year, 36 students in Oregon received the award, and they were honored by Gov. Ted Kulongoski at an awards presentation on April 8.

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 Last Modified: 7/15/2015 11:33:33 AM