Maricruz Abarca moved to America as a teenager who had never been to school.
She wasn't initially convinced that she needed a college degree. As a mother of three, she already has a lot to look after; college seemed like a luxury she couldn't find time to pursue.
Then, as she was trying to earn her GED, a question from a counselor at Baltimore City Community College made her rethink her future.
"She asked me, 'What do you want to become?'" Maricruz recalls. "I said, 'I want to become a criminal lawyer.' She was like, 'That's good, but do you speak English?'"
The counselor told her she would need to learn English; "That's the key for everything."
It was the spark Maricruz didn't know she needed. Encouraged, she started classes at Baltimore City Community College and transferred to The University of Baltimore where she is pursuing a B.A. in Philosophy, Law and Ethics. She hopes to also attend UBalt's School of Law.
A first-generation college student, she dreams of practicing criminal law and one day being mayor of Baltimore so she can "give back to the city that gave to me and embraced me when I needed it most."
Early in her time at UBalt, Maricruz decided its best asset was its people.
"The passion that the people who work for the institution shows. It makes a whole change for a college," she says.
Maricruz was selected to receive a Featherstone College Scholarship to attend UBalt. Each year, the William and Lanaea C. Featherstone Foundation makes scholarships available based on merit. UBalt is one of the foundation's partnering institutions.
"When you win a scholarship, it's not just money coming into your account, it's people investing in you because they think you're worth it," she says.