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NORWALK – Marie Marroquin was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and grew up in a very modest single-parent home. She learned the meaning of responsibility at a very young age of 6.
As her mother worked hard to provide for their basic necessities, Marroquin was responsible for cooking, cleaning and to attend school. Additionally, she sold fruits and homemade snow cones to help her mother with the financial responsibilities for three children.
She remembers being taken to a Catholic orphanage one summer when she and her siblings were out of school even though they were not orphans. As her mother could not afford to have someone care for the children, she occasionally left them locked up while she went to work. It was difficult for her mother to raise three children all by herself. Marroquin was always cleaning and keeping the house in order and took care of her younger siblings.
She lived with her mother until she was 12 years old, then she was brought to the United States by her father without her mother’s consent or awareness. It was the very first time she had met him. Her maternal grandmother pleaded with her father to bring her home; the grandmother was concerned about her safety.
She entered middle school in Pico Rivera and learned English fairly quickly, at least enough to converse. A loving relationship with her father was not accomplished as they barely knew each other. He was an uninvolved parent in every aspect of her personal life and educational goal.
She once again became the sole person responsible for the chores and babysitting for her younger half-sister. Her father divorced shortly after and fell into a depressive state. His incessant statements of telling her to leave finally took effect. One morning she grabbed her bike and two small trash bags filled with some clothing and left to find herself in the most unfamiliar world. Her father never looked for her.
At the age of 15, she held two jobs and solely supported herself as she attended high school without parental support. Even though her jobs left her exhausted, she was determined to graduate from high school. Graduation from high school gave her a sense of accomplishment. Since she had no idea about educational opportunities after high school, she did what she knew best at that time – continued to work two jobs. She had her first daughter at the age of 21 and married a few years later.
The mother of three, Marroquin worked for 30 years continuously to support and raise her children but deep down she never gave up on her dream of furthering her education. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school and will be a first generation university graduate. In 30 years of work experience she held several positions including busgirl, waitress, hostess, bartender, bookkeeper, office manager, administrative assistant, nurse, among many others.
She was given the opportunity to be a secretary for CIGNA HealthCare with the transportation department director while she was a bartender for the Acapulco restaurant in Santa Fe Springs. She told him that she did not have a clue about secretarial work and had no typing skills. He replied, “You will not need to type. I have been watching and the reason that I am offering you this position is not for what you know but how you do your job.”
Alas, her first assignment as a secretary was to type a memo that was dictated by her boss; the very thing she was told that she would not be doing. She quickly learned to use a computer and polished her English speaking and writing skills. She worked for the transportation department for eight years then transferred with high recommendations to a health care center as a manager.
Thus, she became interested in learning more about healthcare and enrolled in a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) program in 1999. She mainly worked in healthcare centers and urgent care. In addition, she served the elderly population for six years as an LVN. She later obtained a registered nurse (RN) degree at Cerritos College.
She started as a part-time student at Cerritos in the summer of 2005, became a full-time student a few years later and took a more active role on campus. Her education was solely funded with her savings and earnings from work up until early 2010 with some help from scholarships.
Thanks to Project HOPE, she became involved in health fairs and was introduced to a campus club Chicanos and Latinos for Community Medicine (CCM.) Project HOPE is a Cerritos College program that supports students with diverse backgrounds in succeeding in their pursuit of their educational goals in healthcare or science.
She became the president for CCM in 2008. From there, the ball kept rolling and she became more actively involved with fundraising events, community outreach, medical conferences, and lasting friendships. She later became a microbiology tutor for Project HOPE. She believes that Project HOPE was the major wheel in steering her career goal in the right direction.
Marroquin transferred to USC this fall thanks to its generous university grant. She continues to volunteer as a tutor for children who are falling back in math at a middle school, among other activities.
Life has taken her through many struggles and obstacles but she believes that it has made her a much stronger individual who will not give up on her hopes and dreams.
Two of her daughters are currently attending Cerritos College and are well on their way on completing their educational goals as well.
“Life has many twists and turns, and today I enjoy a relationship with my father that is slowly evolving and I have the full support of my husband and children to move forward with my educational goals,” she said.
She will continue to pursue her educational goal to become a primary care physician. She is highly motivated to become the best physician possible and give back to her community high quality service with a genuine care for their health.
Published: November 24, 2011 – Volume 10 – Issue 32