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Mentors reached out to help student overcome hurdles

May 09, 2010

Resourcefulness, determination and a resilient spirit have helped Catrina Boppart arrive at her goal, a bachelor’s degree in sociology with cum laude honors. Still, no one would have predicted she’d get this far.

Not with severe family problems, including parental drug use, that led her to leave home as a youngster. Not with a car accident at 13 that left her in a wheelchair for months.

Despite these hurdles she has managed to succeed, maintaining a 3.5 GPA, serving as a student orientation leader and community assistant, working as a research assistant in the Child Psychology Lab for assistant professor Armando Pina.

A key factor in her life was being matched with a woman in the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program who was a successful college graduate and a steadying influence. The woman and her husband took Boppart into their home in high school, giving her a safe and secure environment for the first time.

Two guidance counselors at Mesquite High School in Gilbert also stepped in to help.

“Without them, I don’t know where I would be in life today,” says Boppart. “Ms. Scherrer and Mr. Frontczak assisted me throughout high school in finding internships, scholarships and preparing for college. They provided me opportunities to get involved on and off campus. I would like to follow in their footsteps.”

At ASU she received a Parents Association Scholarship and a Maroon and Gold Scholarship, in addition to other financial aid. She wants to become a counselor and non-profit administrator, and has applied to the ASU master of social work program.

“I put my heart into everything I do,” says Boppart, who is just turning 22. “I care about my future as well as those who come after me. I have been overcoming adversity my entire life, and now, I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Her four siblings will gather for her graduation, including her oldest brother who is coming from New York. It’s the first time in 16 years they have all been together.

“I’m the first to go to college, but not the last,” she says.