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Achieving Summa Cum Laude With a Thirst and Determination for Learning

Bryant & Stratton College business graduate Dulce Maria Paz smiling for her photo

When Dulce Maria Paz was 10 years old, her family moved from Guatemala to Richmond, Virginia. That’s nearly 3,000 miles from her homeland to a new city with a new language and a very different way of life. It was her unwavering determination and a profound thirst for knowledge that would shape her education journey.

In 2003, at the age of 16, Dulce found herself enrolled in Meadowbrook High School. However, the pressures of life and the need to support her family led her to make a difficult decision – she dropped out of high school and entered the workforce. Her first job was as an office administrator at a local staffing company, and during her year there, she absorbed everything she could about the business world. This experience ignited her passion for learning and a growing interest in the industrial trades.

In 2006, Dulce embarked on a new opportunity by joining an industrial electrical company. It was here that she discovered her passion for the industrial electric and energy field. This newfound passion reignited her desire for education, and she made the pivotal decision to return to school and pursue her General Educational Diploma (GED).

“I knew having my GED would open doors for me and enable me to go on to college. I was determined now to get the education I left behind for a while,” she said.

Passion to Purpose

Dulce's journey through education and career development continued to unfold. In 2015, at the age of 28, she took her first step onto the Bryant & Stratton college campus. Over the next year, she worked diligently and graduated with an Associate's Degree in Business in December 2016. This achievement marked the beginning of her journey in the business world.

Balancing the responsibilities of a job and coursework can be an arduous task, requiring time management skills and relentless dedication. Dulce exemplified these qualities as she juggled her work commitments while attending classes and studying. Her perseverance and her commitment to her education were remarkable.

Following her graduation, Dulce joined Optimum Energy, a local solar installation company in the Richmond, VA area. Her commitment to excellence and her eagerness to learn were evident as she pursued further qualifications. In 2019, she earned her Master Electrician and Contractor A License, along with her Public Notary Certification. Dulce was determined to expand her knowledge and skill set continuously.

The value of education for working adults like Dulce goes far beyond the classroom. It provides the tools necessary to excel in one's chosen field and opens doors to opportunities that might otherwise remain closed. Education is the cornerstone upon which careers are built, and for individuals like Dulce, it's a means of empowerment, a way to break through barriers and reach new heights.

From GED to Summa Cum Laude

With an insatiable thirst for learning, Dulce returned to Bryant & Stratton to pursue a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Throughout her academic journey, she earned a place on the Dean's List every semester, showcasing her dedication and unwavering commitment to her education. Her hard work and perseverance ultimately paid off when she graduated Summa Cum Laude, standing out as one of the brightest stars in the first-ever Richmond campus Fall graduating class.

Dulce was not only a graduate but also one of the distinguished speakers at the graduation ceremony. She stood before her peers and shared her inspiring story, filled with passion, dedication, and the sheer determination to overcome challenges.

“My story is one of hope. Bryant & Stratton College stuck with me, encouraging me, helping me and ultimately teaching me more than job skills. I am grateful for the opportunity to have achieved so much here. And I am looking forward to continuing my education and earning my master’s degree, and maybe even my Ph.D.,” she said

In her graduation speech, she quoted the words of Michael Josephson, "Take pride in how far you've come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don't forget to enjoy the journey, too."

Sticking With It When You Want to Quit

Dulce's journey was marked by resilience, determination, and an unwavering commitment to her education, but she also found joy in the process of learning and growth.

"I remember there were times when I told myself there were too many obstacles in the way, and I wanted to quit, but I didn't. I pressed on," she said. “It’s hard juggling work and school. But I did it. I made it. And I am so proud of that.”

Dulce's path from a young immigrant navigating a new world to a Summa Cum Laude graduate is a testament to the power of determination and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Her story serves as an inspiration to all who face obstacles in their path, reminding us that with unwavering commitment and a love for learning, we can overcome any challenges life throws our way.

She shared a quote from Diana Ross with her fellow graduates, “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities. Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” She added, “we can only go up from here.”

As she looks to the future, Dulce Maria Paz embodies the spirit of resilience and the limitless potential that comes with a relentless pursuit of education and personal growth. Her journey is far from over, and we can only anticipate the incredible accomplishments that lie ahead for this remarkable individual.

Learn more about our Business Degree programs here.

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