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A Change in Direction: Mother of Two, Inspired by Father, Returns to School

Natalia Bautista When you ask Owens Community College student Natalia Bautista what motivated her to return to school after 15 years, she doesn't hesitate to say her father. Fighting back tears, Bautista remembers her dad to be an extremely intelligent, hard-working and loving individual. But growing up, Bautista clearly recalls the obstacle that prevented her father from fulfilling his dreams - the absence of financial resources to pursue a college education.

Bautista's father, José, passed away a few years ago, but she has inherited his determination, motivation and passion for knowledge. At 33 years of age, she has returned to school at Owens, vowing to achieve what her father could not.

"My father is my inspiration, and like him, I know I can overcome any obstacle," said Bautista, a resident of Toledo.

José only had a third grade education, but according to his daughter, he continually educated himself to read and write in both English and Spanish. While holding a job as a janitor at Toledo Truck Repair, José and his wife, MaryAlice, offered services to migrant workers at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Bowling Green. Together, they organized Catholic masses and planned communions in Spanish.

Bautista, who recently lost her job at a Bowling Green automotive factory and struggled to support her family of two daughters, is now a successful Owens student with a 3.86 grade point average. She also holds employment through the College's Enrollment Services office. "I felt terrible lecturing my daughters about the importance of earning good grades when I wasn't attending college myself," said Bautista, a mother of two children, Maya and Analicia. "So, I changed my direction in life."

Bautista's hard work has even earned her the first-ever Spanish American Organization Scholarship through the College's Foundation, as well as a federal Pell Grant and the Ohio Instructional Grant. In addition, she is participating in the Federal Work-Study program.

"Natalia exemplifies a successful student and a dedicated employee," said Elisa Rodriguez, Owens Administrative Coordinator of Academic Enhancement and Counseling and a family friend. "Her efforts, optimism and commitment to family and school make Natalia's future bright. Owens is proud to have her."

When Bautista graduates from Owens with an associate degree in radiography, she plans to pursue her bachelor's degree in a health-related field at Bowling Green State University. After obtaining her bachelor's degree, Bautista envisions becoming an x-ray technician in the Toledo area.

However, Bautista's new career aspirations and direction will never allow her to lose sight of the past. "I have high hopes of creating a scholarship in my father's name to assist those who cannot afford a college education," she said. "He gave everything and never expected anything in return. In the future, I wish to extend that generous favor to others."

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Ohio with 28 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo-area and Findlay- area campuses, Owens serves more than 44,000 credit and non-credit students making it the number one choice for Northwest Ohio college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor's degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.


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P.O. Box 10,000, Toledo, OH 43699-1947  |  3200 Bright Road, Findlay, OH 45840-3600