She opted for Cuyamaca College.
“I’ve always been a good student and I’ve always been serious about school, and I was tired of working just for the sake of working,” Gutierrez said. “I wasn’t enjoying myself. I wanted to prepare for something more stable, and I wanted to set a good example for my daughter.”
Mission accomplished. The straight-A student has been impressing professors and providing a strong role model for her daughter, Daisy, since she arrived at Cuyamaca College. In April, Gutierrez was named to the 2015 Phi Theta Kappa All-California Community College Academic 1st Team.
Phi Theta Kappa’s mission is to recognize and encourage academic achievement at two-year colleges across the country, and just 30 community college students in California were named to the 1st Team. Requirements include a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA, being eligible to graduate with an associate degree, participation in honors programs, and academically rigorous coursework, awards, honors, and recognition for academic achievement, along with leadership and service to the college and community.
“Having taught at the college level for the past 20 years, I have seen many different kinds of students, and Evelyn immediately stood out from the first day,” said Associate English Professor Marvelyn Bucky. “She is one of the brightest, most dedicated, talented students I have had the pleasure of teaching. Evelyn is a truly inspiring individual who is not only an outstanding student, but a dedicated single mother who is returning to school to create a better future for herself and her daughter.”
Bucky’s opinion is hardly unique. Mathematics Department Chair Scott Eckert said Gutierrez stood out in his class for her organization, dedication and determination. “I really wish her the best of success as she moves on,” he said.
Gutierrez is the first in her family to go to college – and just getting to Cuyamaca means a 65-mile, round-trip drive from her home in Tecate on the U.S. side of the border. Since enrolling three years ago, the 27-year-old has earned several scholarships, including an Osher Award, a grant from the Mountain Empire Homemakers Club, an award from the women’s networking group Dimensions, and a Barnes and Noble Fall Scholarship.
Working two jobs at Cuyamaca while going to school, Gutierrez expects to graduate in the spring of 2016 with an associate degree in business administration and communication, along with a certificate in business office technology or computer informational science. She has her sights set on San Diego State University after that, and is looking forward to a career working with the disabled, low-income families, and minorities.
Daisy, who is wrapping up second grade, is Gutierrez’s biggest fan.
“She is so excited about me being in college and earning the Phi Theta Kappa award,” Gutierrez said. “She’s telling all her friends and all the teachers in her school. It’s really cool.
“She wants to go to Cuyamaca now. I’ve brought her here several times and she knows a lot of the people here and she tells me she wants the same instructors who have been teaching me to teach her.”