Local Veteran First in Family to Graduate with Bachelor's

University of Phoenix celebrates commencement in Southern California

Published on LatinoLA: August 8, 2012

Local Veteran First in Family to Graduate with Bachelor's

University of Phoenix Southern California Campus recently commemorated the graduation of more than 2,500 students earning associate, bachelor's and master's degrees with a ceremony at the Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Among the graduates was Karen Fuentes, a Monrovia resident, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.

"I would like to congratulate Karen Fuentes and the class of 2012. Every student graduating has succeeded because of their hard work and determination, and we are incredibly proud of them," said University of Phoenix Southern California Campus Vice President, Kendra Angier. "Education in and of itself is not the end goal, but a means to achieve larger life goals where graduates can be successful and do even more to give back to their communities."

Fuentes, a Marine Corps veteran, is not only the first member of her family to graduate from college, but she is also the first in her family to graduate high school. Growing up, education was not discussed in Fuentes' home, but as the oldest sibling to three sisters, she always strived to set a positive example and knew she wanted more for her own life. After high school, she enlisted in the military where she proudly served the country for four years of active duty, four years as reservist and was deployed twice to Iraq. After an honorable discharge, Fuentes entered the Los Angeles Police Academy, and as another first became the first member in her family to become a police officer.

"Being a Marine taught me to always do my best and never stop improving," said Fuentes. "When I left the Marines and transitioned to the Los Angeles Police Department, I quickly realized the best way to advance myself professionally was through higher education. University of Phoenix was a great fit for me, because I could attend classes at the Pasadena Learning Center and study online while continuing to work full time."

Fuentes has continually proven to herself and her family that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. She proudly walked at the University's commencement ceremony, and celebrated another significant family milestone by earning her bachelor's degree.

"Working full time and attending school is challenging, but absolutely worth the time and professional investment," continued Fuentes. "I am so proud to call myself a Phoenix, and demonstrate to my family that any obstacle can be overcome with a goal and solid work ethic."

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