“One year ago, I suffered high levels of stress” | ACC student Maria makes now the time to take that next step

Photo of student holding textbooks while smiling at the camera

“If you already know what you are passionate about, don’t hesitate any longer and start making it happen. And if you don’t know it yet, start exploring possibilities, you will never find what you like if you don’t start experiencing it.”

For Maria Gonzalez Lopez, it was time to dive into her future and embrace her interests. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from México, she started dancing professionally at 18 years old. However, this led to injuries and health concerns. 

“Throughout my professional career in contemporary dance and fitness, I suffered multiple injuries that prevented me from continuing to develop, also greatly affecting my mental and emotional health. Therefore, I spent a lot of time in physical therapy where I witnessed how, with their help, I was able to regain a healthy body and a strong mind.”

Now, Maria is working toward a degree in physical therapy through ACC’s Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program. 

“I want better to understand the human body from the scientific perspective in order to continue my training as a health professional, ultimately seeking to help people live a pain-free, happy, and better quality of life.”

Getting on track to reach these dreams hit a few bumps.

“One year ago, I suffered high levels of stress due to economic problems and difficulties with my studies plan, which greatly affected my performance in school, as well as my physical and mental health. So, I decided to quit school and return to my home country. However, life had better plans for me.”

Maria connected with Dr. Nina Almasy, dean of Health Sciences, and Estrella Barerra, associate dean of Health Sciences, who took the extra time to work with her to find the best balance for her academically and personally.

“After working and talking it through, I found I could complete my degree through the PTA program in a shorter period of time and without throwing away my dreams. I adjusted my study plans and commitments, and thanks to the guidance and motivation, I earned a 3.7 GPA in the fall semester of 2023 and 3.5 in the spring of 2024 while completing all the requirements to enter the program.”

She is now waiting to hear if she will be accepted into the program. Maria wants to make sure everyone knows that this isn’t a road or burden you have to take alone. 

“The road is not easy, you are strong and, most importantly, you are never alone. I choose ACC because of its excellent services, from tutoring for my classes and personalized coaching to improve my way of studying to success coaches who guide me towards my goals. I also found my community that has opened doors to new opportunities and made me feel at home from day one through the Ascender Program.” 

If accepted, Maria expects to graduate in May 2026.

For more information on ACC‘s Health Sciences programs, visit austincc.edu/healthsciences

For more information on getting started at ACC, visit austincc.edu/fall.

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