Three words can be used to describe Kayla Perez: bright, young, and full of life. As a self-proclaimed Houston, Texas native and proud Latina, Kayla Perez is the perfect example of a go-getter. From studying around the clock to taking care of her horses to spending time with her boyfriend and family, Kayla doesn’t let her youthful energy go to waste. Hoping to one day be a speech pathologist, Kayla has promised to herself to work diligently, remain humble, and continue to be honest in all areas of her life. That’s really what she would like to be known for.
Houston, We’ve Met Jesus
Growing up around the Houston area, Kayla wasn’t always a fan of the hustle and bustle of a big city. Having struggled with anxiety most of her childhood, the thought of going to an in-person school wasn’t necessarily something Kayla wanted to endure. To her, having to be in-person made her feel “pressured to be somebody that she wasn’t.” However, that didn’t stop her from wanting to learn. She eventually began homeschooling and was able to finish high school quickly, with little to no issues aggravating her anxiety. Graduating high school at age 16, Kayla and her parents decided it was time for her to go to college. There was just one problem – it was 1.5 hours away. Needless to say, she “was getting tired of the back and forth” driving. Not to mention, Kayla felt her anxiety growing again. She didn’t feel supported or encouraged by her college to do well in her studies. Enough was enough. It was time for her to make a change.
Kayla began to reconnect with God and started attending more worship services and small groups at her local church. This renewed spiritual life, paired with support from her family to transfer schools, motivated Kayla to explore what faith-based schools were available to her. Looking for schools that would give her more opportunities to learn about Jesus and His teachings, Kayla knew she wanted to go to ACU when she heard about their in-depth and comprehensive Bible classes through her admissions advisor. She felt like God was calling her to do big things. She just needed the right college to get her there.
“My faith was really growing a lot, and I just knew that I wanted to go somewhere where I could take bible classes,” Kayla smiles. “And since I had started going to church more and wanted to know more about God, I decided that it was important for me to keep looking for schools that could give me that.”
Kayla also always knew she was destined for online learning. Not just because of its accessibility, but also because of its versatility for students who seek a nurturing environment without the stresses of peer pressure and “classroom chaos.” Looking for alternatives where she would be able to have the flexibility to take courses at her pace, Kayla didn’t think twice about transferring to ACU Online when she heard about the possibility of earning her bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders while incorporating components of her faith. And yet, “the thing that attracted her the most to ACU was the support she knew she would receive.” Something her past university wasn’t able to do.
Becoming An Advocate For Others And Herself
Now Kayla is on the fast lane toward finishing her bachelor’s degree. With only a few more classes to go, Kayla is set to graduate in December 2023. And just like many soon-to-be graduates, Kayla is both prepared and curious about what the future holds for her. However, one thing is for certain. She wants to serve people regardless of their mental, physical or social capabilities. After having her niece diagnosed with autism at a very young age, Kayla witnessed how other professional women worked to care and serve her niece as she dealt with developmental challenges. Inspired by their efforts, Kayla realized that gaining an education wasn’t only for her but for others as well. In a way, it would give her a chance to give back.
“It was a really scary time when we heard about my niece,” Kayla says. “And I knew I always wanted to be someone in something related to medicine or healthcare, so when my niece was being taken care of by other pathologists, I just said to myself ‘Why can’t I be like that?’ Seeing how well they treated her made me want to serve more people in my community. That’s why I want to be a speech pathologist, one day. Helping people is what I think I’m meant to do.”
Aiming to potentially enroll in ACU Online’s master’s in speech-language pathology, Kayla has already been encouraged by her professors to not let her talent and drive go to waste. And she doesn’t plan to. Leaping over the obstacles that stand in her way, Kayla is motivated to make a difference in her community and with other young women who seek to impact the world in big and small ways.
“In five years, I just see myself helping people,” Kayla says. “I think that’s where God’s put me. He keeps putting things in my life that keep pushing me closer to wanting to become a speech pathologist. I’m applying to graduate school and I may or may not get in. But regardless, I just feel like this is where I’m meant to be.”
Kayla considers herself an advocate for anyone going through a hard time in-or-out of school. Having been there herself, Kayla knows what it’s like to feel like you don’t fit in or don’t belong. But, there’s hope. When you find your people, and finally decide to advocate for yourself, many things can change for the better. You just have to keep moving forward, and no one knows that better than Kayla.
Looking to make ACU Online your future home just like Kayla Perez? Visit our website or call 855-219-7300 to learn how you can step into a fulfilling, innovative future at ACU Online.
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