Olivia Vences: VCF Student Ambassador


Born to and raised by a single mother who emigrated from Mexico, Olivia Vences dropped out of Carpinteria Middle School when she herself became pregnant at just 13 years of age. Two years later, she entered the workforce.

At that point in her life, it seemed nearly impossible that she would ever find herself attending college while working a full-time job. But here she is now, 22 years — and four more children — later, enrolled full time and thriving at Ventura College and as part of the Student Ambassador Group.

“If you would have asked me 14 years ago where I saw myself in the future, I would have said, ‘I don’t know, working somewhere,’” recounts Olivia. “No way would I have ever imagined being a good student in college.”

Olivia Vences

Olivia’s path to Ventura College got back on track when she earned her GED from Oxnard Adult School in 2015. Now working toward completing her prerequisites for Ventura College’s RN program, Olivia also works a full 40 hours a week as a medical assistant — while also raising those five children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum, back at home.

Olivia says she couldn’t be juggling these many responsibilities without the assistance of Ventura College’s faculty, staff, and resources. The Ventura College Foundation awarded her with its Westside Scholarship, which has helped pay for both school expenses and a babysitter.

“From a middle-school dropout to a 3.5 GPA at Ventura College, I couldn’t have done this without all the resources Ventura College and its Foundation provides,” insists Olivia. “They have really made it super easy for me to balance home, work, and school with help in different areas like tutoring, financial aid, and scholarships. I mean, a total stranger believed in my dreams and I got the Westside Scholarship.”

Olivia hopes that her story will resonate with — and inspire — other women who find themselves in a similar situation, facing equally long odds of pursuing a college degree.

“I want women to see this and say, ‘Well, if she can do it, then I can do it too,’” says Olivia. “It can be done. It’s never too late. Their story is never too late to be written and told.”