GateWay Grad Overcomes Multiple Obstacles to Make Life in New Country

Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Lupita Arellano

Completing a college degree is a challenging journey that involves hours studying, tough exams, and final projects. Students face numerous obstacles and roadblocks that require resilience to overcome.

For Lupita Arellano, an immigrant of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, these challenges were even greater during her time at GateWay Community College. Besides being a dedicated student, Arellano had to take care of her family and be a strong presence for her children and mother.

Arellano moved to Arizona in 2017, as her and the family followed her oldest son as he attended Arizona State University. Although she had lived in the United States before and her eldest son was born in California, she spent most of her life in Mexico.

At the time of the move, Arellano’s mother was living in Arizona, allowing for a smoother transition to the Valley. While there was some structure in place for Arellano and her children, adapting to a new culture and a new lifestyle was difficult.

“We were suffering from cultural shock,” Arellano said. “It is not easy to be accepted in every part (of the American lifestyle).”

GateWay was the place where Arellano came to improve her English skills, taking ESOL classes after moving to Arizona. It would not be the last time Arellano would be on the GateWay campus, as she would come back to chase her Associate’s degree in Business.

Arellano would continue to face challenges that went beyond her schoolwork, she juggled not only being a mother but also being a full time college student. In 2020, an even bigger obstacle would come into her life, one that would have her take time away from her studies.

She was diagnosed with colon cancer, and took a few months off to fight the disease. Arellano has since made a full recovery from cancer, and feels blessed to be graduating in the class of 2023.

Arellano will now turn focus toward her goals, which includes earning a tax preparation license and opening her own office. She will take some time off from studying to work and take a break away from school, but will continue to pursue an amazing life for her children, herself, and her family in the United States.

“I want to have enough time to work on my projects,” Arellano said. “I want to be productive for my family and start on my next journey.”

To learn more about ESOL classes at GateWay, visit