Priscilla Deloera ’14 turned a devastating blow into a life-changing opportunity.
When Deloera was three months pregnant with her son, she was laid off from the for-profit college she had worked at for six years.
“I really developed a passion for working with my students,” Deloera said. “I was able to work with first generation students, students from Spanish speaking backgrounds, students who survived on fixed income. I worked with all of them one-on-one.”
Losing her job hit Deloera hard.
“I was a product of the economy,” she said. “Just like many people in our community and state and country, I didn’t think it would happen to me.”
Inspiration came to Deloera not long after she was downsized. Her mother-in-law graduated from the University of Redlands School of Business with her MBA, and Deloera, who received her bachelor’s degree from University of California, Riverside, decided it was time to return to school for her master’s degree.
“I started school when my baby was three or four weeks old,” she said. “I went right into it. It was hard, but I made great connections, like Dr. [Pauline] Reynolds. Because of her, not only have I honed my passion for higher ed in general, but she’s also the reason for a few great opportunities that I’ve had.”
Reynolds sent out an email to her students about scholarships, and Deloera followed up and was chosen for an American Association of University Women (AAUW) grant that covered her entire second year of school. She also became a graduate assistant for Reynolds, helping with research for a book. During this busy time, Deloera leaned on her family and her cohort to get through it all.
“It was a challenging time, but I have a very supportive husband,” she said. “The cohort was like going back to my roots, when I went to a private school from first to 12th grade. The small class sizes, lots of one-on-one time with teachers, an academically competitive environment. For my undergrad it was a large public university, and I kind of got lost in the crowd there. When I was at Redlands, I was able to thrive.”
Now that she has her master’s in higher education, Deloera has her sights on an even higher degree.
“I would love to work on my doctorate,” she said. “Prior to doing this program, I don’t think I would have imagined myself even thinking about it. I now know I could make it happen.”
In the meantime, Deloera hopes to find a job working with students at a college or university.
“The perfect job for me would definitely be working with students of color or first generation students,” she said. “I want to help guide them through the process. One of my other big dreams is to become a president of a university.”
Written by: Catherine Garcia