Marisol Suarez began her post-secondary education in 1988. She spent two years at a four-year university. The Enfield resident said many factors, including being away from home for the first time, played a role in her not being able to focus on completing her criminal justice degree there.  Now, almost 30 years later, and Suarez is on a path at Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) and a career with Allied’s Attic, that she would have not imagined coming right out of high school.

Originally from Hartford, Marisol moved to Florida for a short time. She moved back to Connecticut in 2002 as a single mom. In the interim her parents had moved from Hartford to Enfield and that is where she decided to lay down her roots. After coming back to the state she needed to find employment. Looking at possible career options, she took advantage of a class offered by Allied Community Services. Following the completion of the six-week class, she along with others in the class were given interviews at Allied. The agency then offered her a per diem assignment. She then advanced to a position where she would assist residential clients with getting ready for work. She continued working her way up with Allied, taking on different roles including case manager and supervisor. She was tasked with finding work opportunities for clients and helped develop Allied’s Attic, a thrift store located at 294 George Washington Road in Enfield, where Allied’s clients work. The ACC student currently serves as the store’s manager.

Last summer Suarez was ready to come back to school. Asnuntuck’s location was her first draw to the college but she said she has been very happy with her decision and with the people at the college that have helped her. Her 16-year old daughter is already looking at the college’s High School Partnership Program and is saying she will continue her post-secondary education at ACC when she completes high school.

Suarez feels that her life experiences have helped her thrive at Asnuntuck. She thinks that with her dual major degrees she can grow in the human services and criminal justice fields. “It has re-energized me and given me a different perspective.” She added, “I love the exercises they do,” says Suarez, regarding her human services classes. She said she has learned in both of these fields, “You have to be open minded without judging.”

She is considering how she will use her degrees when she graduates. One possible career would be to assist released inmates. “Something to deal with bringing families together before and after jail,” said the student. “They need support.”

Enrolled in six classes this semester, Suarez shares the credit for her success and ability to thrive at Asnuntuck, with Criminal Justice Professor Don Boyd and ACC’s Financial Aid office. “Professor Boyd, who is my advisor, is amazing.” She continues, “Asnuntuck’s Financial Aid office tries so hard.” She continues, “They say ‘sit down and let’s figure this out.’ ” She said she appreciates their can do attitude and the advice that they give to students.

Suarez is on track to earn her Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice in December and her Associate’s degree in Human Services next May.