Growing up in the small town of Rochelle, Illinois, Graciela Perez saw college as not just the next step in her educational journey, but new faces, new challenges, and a chance to grow. When she discovered Clarke University, it provided the fresh start she was looking for.
The more I am here, the more I realize how I made the right decision to attend Clarke. It really was a perfect fit for me because it’s just like home — but better,” Perez said. “There’s a lot to do on and off-campus, and there are so many friends I have made. I have learned to grow up and be more independent while still having my family close.
Like many students away from home for the first time, Perez had to adjust to her new independent lifestyle. Besides her coursework as an accounting major, she also balanced a fulfilling social life and working as a photographer for the Clarke marketing department to help pay for school. If things ever began to feel overwhelming, she knew she could turn to her community of support.
“All the teachers at Clarke are amazing when it comes to helping students. They are always willing to help no matter what. The teachers really want you to succeed here,” Perez said. “The students will also make study groups for exams, so we all help each other out. Whenever I am stressed out over a class or I feel like I’m not doing well, I know that I always have someone to help me to understand and do better.”
With her anticipated graduation in 2023, Perez has several more years with the Clarke community to help prepare for her future. During that time, she hopes to continue building a unique resume of experience and activities, like competing with the university’s esports team. Perez bonded with her father over video games as a child, and it has continued to help her forge relationships now.
“It has been a very enjoyable experience on the esports team since every big tournament we would get our favorite foods and start planning our strategy against the other team. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming and even though we took practices seriously, we would always find ways to enjoy ourselves,” Perez said. “It also opened the opportunity of getting a sports scholarship for me and I was able to receive a lot of cool merchandise from my favorite video games.”
Even as her focus shifts to a career after graduation, she knows she can count on Clarke to help her find success. “I am truly grateful for the experience I have had at Clarke. The teachers have made the transition from student to adult easy and seamless for me. They have helped prepare me for interviews, networking, and they have even recommended me for accounting internships.”