Yadira and Guadalupe Ortiz, of Horicon, grew up understanding the importance of family. In 2000, their mother immigrated from Mexico to the United States while pregnant to create a better life for herself and her children.

The sisters are two years apart and the first in their family to be born in the United States. With unwavering support from their mom, Yadira and Guadalupe promised each other they would do everything they could to create better, brighter futures for themselves.

“We are able to decide what we do in our lives because of our mom and the sacrifices she made for us,” Guadalupe said. “She changed her life coming to the United States, and we want to work as hard as we can to provide a better life for ourselves and for her.”

Yadira, 20, is a second-year student in Moraine Park’s Nursing program, and Guadalupe, 18, started her first semester of the Substance Abuse Disorder Counseling program this spring.

The sisters grew up sharing a very close bond and have supported each other through hard times and major accomplishments. When it was time for Yadira to begin thinking about college, an interest in nursing brought her to Moraine Park.

“When I was younger, I had high cholesterol, so I was in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices,” Yadira said. “That was my first exposure to the healthcare industry, and it always stuck with me. I wanted to help people, and I knew I wanted to stay close to home, so Moraine Park was the obvious choice for me.”

Yadira works at Marquardt Home Health as a CNA and plans to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) after graduation and work in women’s health. She is also a part of Moraine Park’s Promise program, an opportunity for debt-free tuition. As part of the program requirements, Yadira volunteers with her sister at various places and events in her community including, the Fond du Lac Taste of Mexico Festival, Humane Society and MPTC events.

“The volunteer hours have really helped with my shyness, and I feel more like myself than I ever have before,” Yadira said. “The Promise program has not only helped me afford tuition, but it has also given me amazing mentors who helped guide me as a first-generation college student.”

When it came time for Guadalupe to decide what she wanted to do after high school, it was not as easy. She considered going into counseling because she wanted to enter a career where she could help people, and her friends always said she gave the best advice.

“I got discouraged because I started having mental health problems of my own,” Guadalupe said. “I thought since I could not handle my own issues, I would not be able to help anyone else.”

After learning about Moraine Park’s Substance Abuse Disorder Counseling program and talking with supportive friends and family, she felt confident that it was the right path for her. “Being a first-generation college student would not have been so easy if it were not for my sister,” Guadalupe said. “She had it way harder than me because she had to navigate through everything first, like financial aid, applications and more. When it came time for me to start my college career, my sister helped me through every step of the way, and I am very grateful for her.”

Read more stories like Guadalupe and Yadira’s in our Spring 2022 NEXT Magazine.

Written by Emilie Wilson