Watch Ariana’s story here.
In high school, Ariana Carbajal became homeless after her parents learned she was pregnant and asked her to leave. With nowhere to go, Carbajal moved in with an uncle. Her uncle provided her with a place to stay but made it clear that although she was just a teenager, the arrangement was not free; she had to pay for her room and board. Carbajal worked various temporary and part-time jobs for several years to support herself and her child.
At the age of 18, she finished high school and enrolled herself into the Los Angeles Trade Technical College where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts. After earning this degree, Carbajal wanted to pursue higher education full time but had to put this aspiration on hold because she lacked childcare for her son. However, she was determined not to give up on her educational goals. Once her son turned five and was in school full time, Carbajal enrolled as a Business Administration and Accounting major at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and earned her BS.
As a teen mother, Carbajal grew up very quickly. She overcame the struggles of teen pregnancy, homelessness, poverty, and feelings of depression so she could financially provide for her son and be a positive role model in his life. Carbajal knew it was important to keep education as a priority because it would give her and her son a better life.
In the summer of 2012, Carbajal received a mailer from the California Employment Development Department for former U.S. Census Workers who were interested in customized training, career counseling and job referrals. Carbajal contacted the Goodwill Central San Gabriel Valley Work Source Center and through the National Emergency Grant program, enrolled in classes in Basic Applied Forensic Science and Crime Analysis at California State University, Long Beach. In December of 2012, Carbajal completed training and was employed full time with the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
Ultimately, she hopes to become a Deputy for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and has recently begun the application process. Carbajal says, “I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend training classes through Goodwill, which have helped prepare me for a law enforcement career.”
Through all her adversity, Carbajal has never given up on her education or herself and she hopes her son will learn from the example she has set.
Carbajal’s success is an inspiration to anyone trying to overcome challenging circumstances, and her perseverance has enabled her to provide a stable home for her son and a bright future for both of them. Congratulations Ariana Carbajal, Goodwill Southern California’s Graduate of the Year!