In high school, Elian Jimenez (whose friends call him Eli) was known for his exceptional soccer skills. His talent on the field shone brightly, and he dreamed of attending college on a soccer scholarship. His sights were set on Grand Canyon University (GCU), where he envisioned himself pursuing his athletic and educational dreams and making his family proud. But, a devastating ankle injury sidelined Eli during his senior year of high school. Surgery on his foot dashed his hopes of joining a college soccer team, and the dream scholarship to GCU slipped through his fingers, leaving him grappling with uncertainty.
As if the injury wasn't enough, the COVID-19 pandemic cast a shadow over Eli’s recovery. Physical therapy, essential for healing and getting back on his feet, became an elusive luxury because of stay-at-home-orders. But Eli was not to be defeated. He turned to the internet for answers, watching YouTube videos to guide him through DIY physical therapy sessions. With a dog leash as a makeshift resistance band, Eli worked tirelessly on regaining his strength and mobility.
The resilience that had once defined his soccer prowess now fueled his determination to defy the odds. In search of financial stability, Eli took a pause from his college dreams and focused on finding a job. With jobs during the pandemic scarce, Eli took on a grueling road-construction job filling cracks in asphalt in the scorching Arizona heat. It was brutal labor that lasted just a short time, but it gave him a profound appreciation for the value of education.
Undeterred by his physical setbacks which still plagued him, and more motivated than ever to pursue his education, Eli embarked on a quest for better opportunities. He carefully considered his educational options, ultimately choosing Phoenix College as the school close to home and most affordable, thanks to federal financial aid and scholarships. Determined to pave his way towards a brighter future and avoid student debt, Eli successfully navigated the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the scholarship application processes.
Eli’s hard-won experience in DIY physical therapy during the pandemic led to a keen desire to help others overcome health and mobility challenges.
“Earning a college degree in Health Science provides me with a strong foundation in the biological and social sciences, as well as an understanding of the healthcare system and the factors that influence health outcomes. This knowledge allows me to approach healthcare from a holistic perspective, and to understand the complex relationships between biological, social, and environmental factors that influence our health.”
While attending PC, Eli enjoys volunteering for the Glendale Desert Dogs baseball team helping with concessions, merchandise sales, ticketing and seating.
“One of the most significant benefits of volunteering for the Desert Dogs has been the opportunity to develop my teamwork and communication skills. Working alongside other volunteers and team personnel requires effective communication and collaboration to ensure the smooth operation of game-day activities. This has taught me the importance of clear communication and teamwork in achieving common goals. Volunteering has also given me a sense of pride and accomplishment. Knowing that my contributions are helping the team and the fans enjoy the game-day experience is incredibly rewarding. It has also motivated me to continue to seek out volunteer and community service opportunities in the future.”
Elian's story is marked by resilience, resourcefulness, and relentless determination. As a first-generation college student, he carries with him the hopes and aspirations of his family, setting an example for his older brother and younger sister who have yet to embark on their own educational journeys. His path is a beacon of hope, a testament to the belief that no matter the challenges, education has the power to transform lives and build a brighter future.
While his dreams of being a soccer champion have been sidelined, Eli is focused on his future, promoting health and disease prevention. He will complete his associate of arts degree at Phoenix College in December, and will transfer to a university to pursue a bachelor’s degree. “Earning a college degree will help me be a valuable asset and will open doors to help me make a difference in the lives of others.”
If you are interested in a career that helps people live better, safer, healthier lives, consider a degree in Health Sciences. Phoenix College offers associate degrees, university transfer, and certificate programs to get you on your path to a fulfilling career.