The thought of going to college never crossed the mind of Dalia Izquierdo ’20 until her employer, United Technologies Corporation (UTC), collaborated with the University of Redlands. She works as an assembler, building the outer casings of airplane wind turbines for UTC Aerospace Systems in Riverside.
Izquierdo grew up in a family where going to school wasn’t seen as a possibility. When she made the decision to enroll at the U of R, her family members immediately took notice. “My nieces and nephews range in age from six to 18, and when they saw me go back to school at age 26, they were surprised that I'd take that step,” she says. “They've all actually decided to go to college.”
As a business student in the “Pathways” program, Izquierdo is earning credits from courses offered by the School of Continuing Studies in order to advance into a degree-granting undergraduate program in the School of Business. After her work shifts at UTC Aerospace Systems, she attends classes with her co-workers.
“The professors actually come to UTC and teach in a designated area, like it's a regular classroom,” she says. “I enjoy going to class with my co-workers because I already spend half the day with them. They’ve become like a second family to me.”
Despite a busy work and class schedule, Izquierdo says that she’s able to maintain balance in her life. “My classes finish at a time that allows me to go home, cook, do some homework, go to sleep, and come back the next day,” she says. “UTC also allows me to use a company computer to do homework during my lunch breaks.”
In addition to employer support, Izquierdo says that her professors provide personal motivation. “I was a little wary about my writing, but my writing professor would always give me positive feedback on my work,” she says. “I think feedback is very important for growth, and it's to receive encouragement from my professors.”
As a first-generation college student, Izquierdo says that being a part of the Redlands community is exciting. “I never thought I'd be in the position to be a college student, so it's still brand new to me,” she says. “Knowing that I'm going to Redlands, a private university, has taken a lot of fear away from what I thought college would be like.”
Reflecting on her experience thus far, Izquierdo says that the University’s collaboration with UTC has changed her life. “The University of Redlands goes above and beyond because they look for regular people who are trying to go back to school and improve their lives,” she says. “They accommodate the working employee and stand for the education of others.”