Aug 30, 2023 3:20 pm

For Samuel Pena-Rojas, Pierce College is a family affair.

Pena-Rojas decided to enroll at Pierce College after both of his aunts attended – one to complete her GED, the other to earn a two-year degree. The son of undocumented immigrants, Pena-Rojas said that family legacy is something he is striving for.

“I don’t see myself satisfied with only completing a degree and moving on. I see myself working with my community and volunteering to give those same opportunities I was given back to my community,” Pena-Rojas said. “I want my legacy to be a foundation. A foundation that sets a path for the newer generations.”

In the winter of 2024, Pena-Rojas will complete his Associate Degree in Business before transferring to the
University of Washington-Tacoma to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.

At Pierce College, Pena-Rojas says he’s found a wide range of opportunities that led him to his academic pursuits.

His long-term goals include a future Master’s Degree in Business Analytics and, one day, a Doctorate.

“The best way to progress is to make those larger goals that give you a sense of purpose,” Pena-Rojas said. “Pierce College is the door that brings me to these new opportunities and because of that, I’m able to prove my worth and shine.”

Pena-Rojas decided to pursue a business degree because of his interest in math and statistics. He said he enjoys how mathematical skills are all about learning concepts and applying them to a variety of problems – something he hopes to employ in his future career as a Financial or Data Analyst.

“I like to do research and come up with findings and show how those findings have an impact on business moves,” Pena-Rojas said. “That makes it not only fun but purposeful. I hope to be able to create projects that have a real impact and that’s what drives me toward a future in business.”

In addition to his studies, Pena-Rojas also works in the Office of Student Life as an Administrative Senator on the Student Government Team. He is also the recipient of a Pierce College Foundation scholarship which he says has allowed him to focus on his education and not work tirelessly just to afford to attend college.

As for the distant future, Pena-Rojas says one day he hopes to become a college professor and give back the kind of care and support he received at Pierce College.

“The impact that you can have in higher education, that’s not just a job – there is a real purpose behind it,” Pena-Rojas said. “Being a student at Pierce is so much more than attending a 2-year institution and transferring to complete a degree,” he added. “It’s about setting milestones with my family and proving what was once seen as impossible is possible. It’s about being given a chance and being cared for despite where I come from or how I came to be.”