Jacqueline is as tough as they come. The single mom of two young sons, she had very little help raising them, but never stopped working hard to give them a better life. She knew that she had to carve a path for them to succeed as a family. She decided that the best thing she could do for her kids and for herself was to pursue a college education.

Jacqueline’s dream was to become a clinical therapist, but she had to face many obstacles. She was the first person in her family to go to college, and she had very little support and resources. She knew it would be a tough road, but things took an unexpected and difficult turn when she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during her first semester of college.

“I made a decision that nothing, not even breast cancer, would stop me from fulfilling my dream.”

Jacqueline began cancer treatment while staying in school full time. Then, two days before the start of her senior year at UC Irvine, she learned she had recurrent invasive breast cancer and it was stage 3. Financially it was becoming unmanageable, and she wasn’t sure where to turn.

That was when Jacqueline decided that she would apply for the Live Your Dream Awards, and she was overwhelmed with joy and hope when she learned she was chosen. The Live Your Dream Awards are for women just like Jacqueline—strong, determined women who have survived the odds and deserve the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

“This award reminded me that others believed in me and the path I was on.”

With the help of this award and her own hard work, Jacqueline was able to provide for her children, stay in school, and continue her fight against breast cancer. She continues to rely on the emotional support of her local Laguna Beach Soroptimist Chapter. In 2016, Jacqueline became the first in her family to be awarded a bachelor’s degree. She was then admitted into USC’s graduate school and earned her Masters of Social Work.

Jacqueline is now employed as a medical social worker and is working towards becoming a licensed clinical social worker. She is also a health and wellness coach and has her own business called Whole Self Wellness and Coaching where she helps her clients overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

About the Live Your Dream Awards

The Live Your Dream Awards provide over $2.8 million in education grants to about 1,900 women each year. Since 1972, the program has helped thousands of women achieve empowerment through education.

More than half of our awards recipients identify as survivors of domestic or sexual violence. Over 97% of those survivors report now living in a safe environment.