Cynthia has graduated! It wasn’t easy. Cynthia encountered obstacles she never anticipated in the midst of her freshman year. Obstacles that might easily have derailed her from her dream. But she didn’t give up. With the help of advisors like Marnie Parris-Bingle at Grand Valley’s Trio Student Support Services she put a plan together. (The Trio services at Grand Valley have been helpful to so many of our students!)

It took her an extra semester and some summer classes but Cynthia graduated with excellent grades and with high recommendations from the internship required for a degree in Criminal Justice.

Though she had prepared for a job in the State probation programs, she found that “experience” is required. To that end, she applied to local security firms and we are delighted to report she has been hired by Spectrum Health in their Security Department as a Security Officer.

She still might one day move into the probation system working with juveniles or adults as she had dreamed — she might also find opportunities she hadn’t anticipated with her new employer! Congratulations Cynthia!

But let’s remember how it began for Cynthia:

Though not a Holland or Zeeland resident, graduating from Fennville High school, Cynthia Bustillos was still eligible for a Holland/Zeeland Promise because of her many years of involvement with Hope College’s Trio Upward Bound.

Cynthia says she was grateful for the “step by step” way Upward Bound helped her prepare to follow her dream of a college education. Like most of the Holland/Zeeland Promise recipients, Cynthia will be the first in her family to attend college.

Cynthia began college dreaming of a nursing degree. But an inspirational professor and several courses in the area of Criminal Justice steered her towards a degree in that field. Cynthia hopes to work with juvenile offenders as a probation officer, or become a police officer. She is still deciding.

Her degree goals at Grand Valley University are:

  • Major in Criminal Justice
  • Minor in Spanish

Elizabeth Colburn, Director of Upward Bound had this to say about Cynthia:

“Cynthia has a strong work ethic and has shown that she is someone who uses the personal and academic lessons she has learned to positively impact her life as well as the lives of those around her. She leads by quiet example on a daily basis.”

And what words does Cynthia have for other students seeking a college education when financial obstacles loom?

Get involved with Upward Bound if you can. They take you step by step getting you ready to achieve your dream. And they encourage you to dream big, motivate you to do your best, help you believe you can do it.

To learn more about the Holland/Zeeland Promise Scholarship, visit