Starting Fresh at Saint Paul College
For Eloisa Segura, Saint Paul College represented a chance to reinvent herself as a stand-out student and community leader.
From the start, the odds seemed stacked against Eloisa Segura. “My mother immigrated to the United States to work as a nanny and housekeeper – she was a woman with only a ninth-grade education who did not speak English, and who had no family in the U.S.,” says Segura. “I was born into a Spanish-speaking single-parent household with a family income far below the poverty line. As you can imagine, the circumstances I was born into did not set me up for success.”
A Rocky Beginning
Due to these challenges, as a high schooler, Segura found herself just scraping by. “I never played a sport, an instrument, or got involved in extracurricular activities – in part because of the costs,” she says. “I didn’t take ACT prep classes, I didn’t try hard in school, and to be honest I almost didn’t graduate high school.”
When senior year came Segura was surrounded by the buzz of college tours, applications, and acceptance letters; she got caught up in the excitement and decided she wanted to go to college, too. Segura chose a small Catholic college in Iowa, where she was excited to join the cheerleading team. She was accepted, however when her financial aid letter came, reality hit.
“I hadn’t prepared to go to college and I wasn’t a strong applicant,” says Segura. “I wouldn’t get an academic scholarship because I hadn’t demonstrated that I was capable of doing the work. I wasn’t worth investing in.”
Opening to Opportunity
Rallying from her disappointment, Segura soon realized Saint Paul College could offer her the affordability she needed and the fresh start she wanted. “My mom dropped me off on my first day, and I was ready to start a new path and fully dedicate myself to doing my absolute best,” says Segura.
Looking back, Segura believes Saint Paul College was the perfect place for her. “My classes were interesting and manageable, and the instructors were flexible, caring, and understanding. There were no surprises, so you could take charge of your own education by planning ahead and keeping your own commitments in mind.”
She soon began taking advantage of the many opportunities available to Saint Paul College students, including earning a lead role as Millie in the Saint Paul College production of Picnic and serving as a Saint Paul College Student Ambassador.
“Eloisa was an excellent student who was committed to the process of creating our production of Picnic,” says theater instructor James LeDuc. “She was a leader in the cast, and through her hard work and dedication, she was able to create a wonderful character.”
“As a Student Ambassador Eloisa was always eager to represent our college on tours and at off-campus events, and was a very confident public speaker,” adds Dave Mogren, a former advisor for the Student Ambassador program. “Eloisa is a great example of how valuable networking within the college can be – her constant participation was noticed by everyone, including our college president, who invited Eloisa to speak in front of visiting groups on several occasions.”
“Ms. Segura's openness, choices and determination have made her story remarkable and inspiring. It shows just how transformative believing in yourself and being involved in your college community can be.”
-Rassoul Dastmozd, President/CEO
Segura’s academic efforts and enthusiasm paid off quickly with a scholarship to attend Saint Paul College for a second year. After meeting her would be husband, she set her sights on a closer Catholic college, St. Thomas, to complete her four-year degree.
“When I received my acceptance letter from St. Thomas it included an academic transfer scholarship for over half my tuition, and I could afford to finance the rest with federal student loans,” says Segura. “I went on to become part of St. Thomas’ honor society, as well as my department’s honor society.”
Segura graduated cum laude from the University of St. Thomas in 2016 with a major in Spanish linguistics and a minor in business. Today, she works as a commercial insurance analyst for a national commercial real estate capital solutions provider and has paid off all her student loans. “I am a success story, however, none of this would have been possible without the existence of Saint Paul College and the opportunity it presented,” says Segura.
This article originally appeared in our College Magazine - Spring 2019. Download a free copy to read more stories like this one.