Karen Arandia has worked hard and fought to get to where she is, not only in her education, but in life. Arandia, a junior majoring in information systems and operations management (ISOM), is a first generation college student. She also overcame a serious illness, which required her to put her education on hold.
“In December 2010, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I took a break from school, following my doctor’s orders to focus on my health. Once I was done with chemotherapy treatment and surgeries, I returned back to work and school with full force,” she said.
Recognizing the need to maintain a full-time job for health coverage, Arandia returned to school part-time. She worked with Arlington County for nine years. The last position she held was as a business tax specialist for the Commissioner of Revenue helping business owners learn about their rights and tax responsibilities.
Arandia reached her five-year remission mark in April 2016, and gave birth to a baby boy in June of that year. Receiving the GOV Services, INC. Scholarship, has allowed her to remain a full-time student for fall 2017.
“I had to make a choice, and the choice I made was to finish what I had started and continue pursuing my goals,” she said, adding that the scholarship is helping her get to the finish line.
She promised herself that if she beat cancer, she would live with no regrets. “I have been persistent with my education and believe that nothing worth having comes easy,” Arandia said. “Sometimes I would work all day and go to school at night. Sometimes I would make it home to change out of my work clothes, and some days I could not. There were cold winter nights I would leave my home for a class when it was easier to stay at home.”
She is also determined to complete her undergraduate education to set the bar for her son. “I want to set it as high as I can so that he can surpass it,” she said.
Arandia will graduate in fall 2018. She plans on pursuing professional IT certifications to help advance her career in technology.
“With the changing technology, a career path in information systems will provide new challenges and constant learning opportunities,” she said. “I would like to pursue a career in information security. I hope to complete a master’s degree in the future, and I would like to become a published author someday.”