Twelve years ago, Maria de Jesus Cisneros moved into a new Habitat for Humanity home in Piru with her parents and six brothers and sisters.
Coming from humble beginnings in Ventura County – a two bedroom home where five girls slept in one bed – this vibrant family was excited about what the future held for them. Her parents, Sara and Enrique, dreamed of bright futures for their seven children (now eight), a safe community, and a home environment where they would grow and thrive!
When she was 24 year old Maria de Jesus did something that ten years ago seemed unreachable!She graduated from California State University Northridge (CSUN) with dual degrees in Chicano studies and psychology. She had a great role model… her older sister, Maria Guadalupe graduated from CSUN in 2013 with a degree in sociology. Luis, aged 21 graduated from CSUN in 2016 with an accounting degree.
Maria was recently chosen for the prestigious Sally Casanova Scholars award, giving her the unique opportunity to explore and prepare to succeed in a doctoral program. The award offered the benefit of one-on-one guidance from CSUN faculty members, and an internship at the University of Michigan this past summer. After she earns her PhD, Maria will focus her career on childhood education, partnering with community-based programs. Maria said “my youngest brother Javier, upon hearing that I’m a scholar, quickly told me that he will be the 8th scholar in our family!”
As the oldest girls in the family, Maria de Jesus and Maria Guadalupe helped the younger children with school work, even while studying for their degrees. For the past twelve years, they have volunteered at Piru’s Mission of San Salvador. Now, Maria’s family is giving back to Habitat, volunteering at our new build sites, helping new Habitat partner families build their homes. “Building a Habitat home and working with Habitat was the start of many successes in my life and my family’s life, says Maria.”
In the twelve years they have been in their Habitat for Humanity home, the Cisneros family has been able to focus on getting better jobs, pursuing higher education, and planning for their futures – which previously seemed like a distant dream when they were crowding too much life into too few rooms.
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