Against All Odds

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POSTED: Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 5:47pm

UPDATED: Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 11:14am

Graduation is a proud moment for students and their families. But for one UTEP student in particular, this weekend's commencement ceremony is a life-changer.

At 37-years-old, Karina Zazueta is graduating Summa Cum Laude with a degree in psychology. She got here after fleeing an abusive relationship and making sure her four kids got out safe, too.

"I dropped out of high school at 14 and I got married at the age of 15," Zazueta said.

But the honeymoon period didn't last long.

"When I first got married he started beating me a lot, I was afraid," Zazueta said.

Karina says she tried and tried to leave but never could, until one violent fight pushed her over the edge.

"I escaped with my children with just one package of changes."

Karina began working on getting her GED. She also gained legal status here in the U.S. so she could attend UTEP.

"I was totally monolingual four years ago," she said. "Can you imagine the first classes that I took? Really I don't know how I did that you know."

"I saw many things and I heard many things and it was a situation where I was in the middle a lot of times," said Karina's oldest daughter, Alexa. She is following in her mother's footsteps.

"We study together and we took a conditioning class together," Alexa said.

UTEP has named Karina a "Banner Bearer" at this Saturday's ceremony. UTEP will be graduating 1,800 students this Saturday and expects to hand out 1,200 more diplomas in May.

"The December graduation group is growing as is the May graduation group," said University Provost Howard Daudistel says many miners juggle work, school, and family life. With four kids, a job, and a volunteer gig at a local refugee clinic, even Karina doesn't know how she fit it all in. But with graduation soon under her belt, she's one step closer to achieving her dream.

So what's next for Karina?

"Law school!" she says.

 

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I´m so proud of u sis! No tengo palabras para decirte lo orgullosa que estoy y ver todo lo que has conseguido en este tiempo....estoy deseando ir a tu graduación y que también ya me puedas defender legalmente! jejejej love u!!!! :)

mom look how far you have come from dropping out of school to graduating in a couple of month i love you mom and im exited to see whats next for you in life this is just the beggining of your sucsess i love you -your daughter nikole

mom look how far you have come from dropping out of school to graduating in a couple of month i love you mom and im exited to see whats next for you in life this is just the beggining of your sucsess i love you -your daughter nikole

To be more sucessful!

Congratulations!! Karina I am so proud of you! You are a role model. May you continue to be succesful. I send you a big hug.

Karina:
You are not only an inspiration to the El Paso community, but to the nation... Congratulations, you've enlightened me.

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