Like mother, like daughter.

Claudia Hales and her daughter, Clarissa, are both students at Utah Valley University. Both are enjoying their experiences and heartily recommend it to others.

Claudia Hales moved to the United States from Guatemala when she married a Utah man. She had a teaching degree in Guatemala and wanted to certify to teach in the United States, but put her education on hold to start a family.

One of her sons and her daughter, Clarissa, attended the Utah County Academy of Sciences for high school. It is on the campus of UVU and offers concurrent enrollment credit for its students. Clarissa Hales earned an associate degree in 2018 as she graduated from high school. That experience helped her mom to find the path to continue her own education.

“I raised a family for 18 years and then went back to school,” Claudia Hales said. “I chose UVU because I had a son who came to UCAS. I heard wonderful things, and experienced wonderful things about UVU through my kids.”

Claudia Hales has since earned her associate degree and attained a 4.0 grade point average, an achievement she’s maintaining.

“I finished my bachelor’s in December,” she said. “I will get my master’s and am looking into UVU for that. We are a bleed-green Wolverine family.”

She would like to teach on the university level.

Claudia Hales said the Women’s Success Center helped her achieve those goals.

“They really promote success,” she said. “They have a lot of programs and things that we can do in order to succeed. That reinforces what UVU is about.”

Clarissa Hales agreed, pointing out some of her experiences.

“They have a lot of volunteer and networking opportunities,” she said. “They hold a lot of events to help you get involved.”

“And we love getting involved in community service,” Claudia Hales said. “Our family believes the school is very community service-oriented. It empowers individuals. The more service, the better.”

Things have not always been rainbows and unicorns, however. The family has obstacles.

“Balancing out the schoolwork load, and the house, and being a mom, and also being a math mentor — it is definitely a challenge,” Claudia Hales said.

Yet they have found ways to overcome those challenges, not by doing less but by doing more. They go to concerts and other events.

“I love music, I love art,” Claudia Hales said. But her first love is learning.

“My mom taught me there is nothing worth more than education,” she said. “It is priceless. It is basically the only thing that has real value in the world.”

Clarissa Hales also has that same love of education. She has considered how it will enable her to help others in the future.

“It is really important to me because it makes me able to do more good,” she said. “I want to be a therapist and schooling is very important. I want to help kids who have been sexually abused. My dream is to do therapy internationally, for a nonprofit, maybe in India or Africa. Then I could come back after that and set up my own practice.”

Both women encourage others to gain the education they need for their dreams.

“I would like to tell people that anything is possible,” Claudia Hales said. “If I can do it, they can do it. Just focus and set goals. You dream it, you can achieve it.”

“I would tell them to think about the difference they can make in whatever career path they will pursue,” Clarissa Hales said. “There will be help, not only for themselves but for others around them. It is hard and definitely something that is very worth it in the end. It makes you better educated and well-rounded. The lessons you learn as a person are important — your strengths and weaknesses — help you become more aware. You figure out how to better yourself.”

“UVU is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made,” she added. “I love it here. The support, the love with my professors and peers is unmatched.”

Women like Claudia and Clarissa Hales are encouraged to take advantage of the Women’s Success Center. The center offers women the support and resources they need to complete their degree and gain the confidence, opportunity and knowledge that come with a diploma. UVU is dedicated to providing higher education opportunities to all who seek them, especially to women. Further information is available at uvu.edu/wsc.