Laureate Impact

Overcoming Disabilities Through Education and Resilience

Guadalupe Rivera, known affectionately as Lupita, defied the odds to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Education from UVM at the age of 51, despite living with cerebral palsy.

Her formal educational journey, delayed and complicated by her condition – grade three spasticity cerebral palsy – didn’t truly begin until she was 29, when she started her primary education through homeschooling and the government’s adult education program. With support from theAssociation of People with Cerebral Palsy (APAC),she completed her secondary high school education online, facing and overcoming numerous barriers along the way.

Denied the chance to attend elementary public or private schools because of her disability, Lupita’s path to higher education was anything but conventional.Her determination and resilience led her to UVM, where not only was she accepted but also awarded a scholarship, recognizing her capability and right to pursue higher education. Lupita reflects on the support she received at UVM, “It was wonderful.

I felt supported and valued by both the faculty and my peers. The online platform and faculty support helped me complete my assignments and activities independently. When I needed materials or explanations, the teachers were always friendly.I never imagined that studying at this institution would be so enjoyable.”

Her family’s unwavering support was a cornerstone of her journey. Lupita shares, “My entire family’s support has been indispensable. My brother David, in particular, would regularly attend classes with me and help me use the computer and read and write when I could not do it myself.”

Despite the numerous challenges she faced, Lupita never lost sight of her goals. “My challenges started very young... The biggest challenge has been understanding and accepting that learning requires time and effort, especially for someone with my condition. Despite having to read the material several times to understand it, I have learned the importance of seizing educational opportunities offered and proving my abilities.”

Now, as a graduate, she is setting her sights on specializing in Special Education, aiming to inspire both children and youth with and without disabilities. Lupita envisions a future where she can contribute more significantly to the field of education. “I wish to find a job where I can give my all and demonstrate allI am and what I have learned.”

Her advice to those facing challenges is grounded in her own experiences. “It’s important to get back up after each fall and move forward, taking advantage of the brain’s capacity to learn and adapt. In the end, what matters is being consistent with what one says, feels, and does, living in accordance with those principles.”

“I felt supported and valued by both the faculty and my peers. I never imagined that studying at this institution would be so enjoyable.”
Guadalupe Rivera
UVM Alumnus

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