After watching her children grow up and her husband and son earn degrees, Maria Morales knew there was more in the cards for her.
She hopped in her car, drove from her Silver Lake home to Edmonds Community College and registered for classes. Then she returned home and shared the exciting news with her family.
“I decided maybe it’s my turn to do something for me,” Morales said.
Morales received her associate of technical arts degree in business information technology from EdCC on June 17, and she says she’s only just begun continuing her education.
“Now I want more school. I don’t want to stop,” said the mother of two, who’s in her 40s. “I want to know more, I want to learn more, I want to see more.”
Morales has taken it upon herself to encourage other adults to return to school. After all, she’s done it successfully, as has her husband, Philip, who earned a degree from EdCC and now works for Comcast.
Her son Steven, now 24, graduated from Cascade High School and then attended EdCC before receiving his bachelor’s at the University of Washington. He is now a civil engineer working in Seattle.
Attending EdCC is pretty much a family affair for the Moraleses, as daughter Lisa, 17, will enroll through the Running Start program next fall, as she begins her senior year at Cascade.
Coming from a large Latino family, Morales was not expected to continue her education past high school.
“That’s the tradition in our culture, but we don’t have to follow that tradition anymore,” Morales said. “Things change, people change.”
In her two years at Edmonds, Morales took advantage of the opportunities the college provides. She’s worked part-time for two years at the Equity &Diversity Center at EdCC and was the secretary for the Latin American Student Association.
Morales’ bubbly personality and drive make working with her a pleasure, said Robin Blue, an EdCC student and co-worker of Morales’ in the Equity &Diversity Center.
“She always makes sure everyone’s happy,” Blue said.
She said Morales is very giving, and it’s not uncommon for her to shower co-workers and visitors of the center with food and snacks.
But it’s Morales’ determination that sets her apart from others, Blue said.
“She’s got a strong desire to achieve her goal,” Blue said. “Her heart’s in it.”
Now that she’s had an opportunity to return to school, Morales hopes to continue. After she completes requirements for a transfer degree, she would like to receive her bachelor’s and use her knowledge to help others return to school.
“I want to be an advocate, to show others who are less fortunate or who don’t know what steps to take,” she said. “I want to help people who are beginners and who want more for themselves.
“I’m not the only one who can do this.”