Valeria Vaca 

YVC has given me so many tools to help me overcome my emotional struggles and I’m extremely grateful for it.

Valeria Vaca Student Story Profile Image.


Degree/Certificate & Class Year 
Associate in Science Transfer, 2024 

Yakima, Wash. 

High School Attended 
East Valley High School 

Health Science   

Extracurriculars (e.g., clubs, YVC sports teams) 
My extracurriculars include making pastries such as cakes and cupcakes for events. I also donate my time to my church and even take desserts to their events. I also play volleyball for my high school team. 

What three words would you use to describe YVC? 
Opportunity, Equality, Inspirational 

What’s your favorite class? Why? How has it expanded your knowledge? 
My favorite class so far has been chemistry with Natalia Dunn due to how challenging the series has been. It has provided me with an interesting curriculum and has taught me about acids and chemicals that are commonly used in the medical field.  

Who is your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor? 
I consider [Chemistry Instructor] Natalia Dunn to be my mentor on campus. She has guided me through challenging subjects and is a constant source of support for me. Dunn has been able to teach me chemistry in the most effective form possible and I look up to how knowledgeable she is. 

What made you want to come to YVC? 
Hearing about the amazing opportunities that I could have at YVC motivated me to come here. As I know many people that have gone to YVC for the Running Start Program, such as my sister, I was able to get some insight into how it would help my future. I wanted to take the chance to receive my associate degree at the same time as I would be graduating high school. 

How did you decide on a major? 
I’ve known since a young age that I wanted to become a neurosurgeon, so I have decided to go into a bio-chem major as I am on the pre-med path. I decided on this major from life experiences such as members of my family having brain tumors and it has motivated me to chase my dreams further to help people facing similar issues. 

Are there any barriers that you’ve overcome to be successful at YVC? Please describe. 
I have overcome mental barriers throughout my time at YVC. At first I doubted myself. I had depression early on in my first year here, I felt that I wasn’t capable of being successful. This was the case until I met supportive instructors that believed in me and programs that helped me navigate through this new experience. This helped me extremely in building my confidence to face challenges and being extremely successful, even being top of my class at times. YVC has given me so many tools to help me overcome my emotional struggles and I’m extremely grateful for it. 

What do you like or find most interesting about your major? 
The way that every aspect of life has a scientific background is what interests me the most about my major. The major I chose teaches me every day how science connects to everything and it’s so interesting to learn about what we are made up of. 

Where do you find your community on campus? 
I found my community within campus to be in the STEM studying room since my fellow STEM students are there and can relate to me in so many ways. These ways include all of us having to go through rigorous courses and we all understand how stressful classes can be. Some of us also relate in the matter of what career paths we are going into. 

What advice do you have for prospective students? 
I definitely recommend knowing how to manage your time so that you can excel in your classes while still having time for yourself. Time management also helps by lowering your stress levels since you will feel prepared at all times. Another piece of advice is to be as social and friendly as possible. Making friends is a big part of college and with these friends come study partners, which is so helpful, especially if you are taking classes together.  

What’s your favorite spot on campus? 
My favorite spot on campus is the STEM room in Glenn Anthon Hall. It provides a quiet work room for students in the STEM pathway where you can make friends, work on your homework and receive help from your peers. It has been a safe place for me to study before exams and its environment helps me stayed focused. It is just one of the various helpful places on campus that have been useful to me throughout my first year. 

How has Yakima Valley College changed you? 
I found that Yakima Valley College has made me more responsible and has helped me grow my time management skills. With all of the homework assigned from each class, being responsible is necessary and YVC has helped me achieve this skill. It has also made me more social since I went into a new environment and made friends throughout my courses. 

How do you manage stress? 
My personal way to manage stress is to listen to music and to make sure I leave time for self-care. This way, the workload that comes from my classes doesn’t stress me as much, since I spend some time relaxing. Another important aspect of it is to make sure that I manage my time, so that when an exam comes up, I’m not cramming in study time and I won’t be as stressed. 

What do you view is your biggest achievement at YVC? 
I consider my biggest achievement at YVC to be joining the MESA and QUEST programs since they give me the chance to give back to my community while I receive educational opportunities as well. I have also been able to keep a great GPA while still maintaining time for myself and I have learned how to be more social, which used to be hard for me. 

Did you receive any financial aid or scholarship funding to attend YVC? If so, please describe how this helped you on your journey.  
I have received financial aid from the Running Start program which pays for a large portion of class fees and makes the financial aspect of college easier on my family. Instead of paying thousands [of dollars on tuition], I usually only pay for my books, which has been such a relief. This way I don’t have to worry about it and I’m able to focus on my education. 

What is your ultimate goal? Where would you like to end up? 
My ultimate goal is to finish getting my associate in science and associate in arts degrees at YVC, then transfer to a larger university in order to receive my bachelor’s degree in bio-chem. I then plan on attending medical school so that once I graduate, I can start a residency program at a hospital where I would hopefully become a neurosurgeon. 

Interested in getting started at YVC? Visit our admissions page or request information.