When You Have Faith

USD student Maria Coleman alongside her two sons


It was the summer of 2017, and Maria Coleman didn’t yet know she’d been accepted to the University of San Diego as a transfer student. In her mid-30s, she’d moved so often that her mail always seemed to be a step behind. By the time she got word that she was admitted for the fall semester, there was no campus housing available that could accommodate herself and her sons.

“They gave me temporary housing for that semester,” she recalls. “As a result, I had to share custody, so that the boys had a place to live.”

By the time she was better situated, her ex-husband had gone to court and formalized a shared custody arrangement, even though Coleman says that she’d previously endured 15 years of domestic violence. While the situation baffles her, she kept a laser-like focus on the prize: a diploma from USD.

It’s been a long road for Coleman, who found out she had a learning disability during her community college years. “It’s a processing deficit,” she explains. “For me, higher education has meant a lot more than just going to class and getting books. It’s a way for me to find a place for myself in society; to really discover who I am as a woman.”

When campus had to be suddenly evacuated by March 22, Coleman and her fellow Torero Renaissance Scholars — defined as “USD students who identify as former foster youth, homeless or at risk for homelessness or emancipated minors or in legal guardianships” — had to be relocated quickly.

“The school quickly mobilized and found us not just housing, but the manpower to move us.” She credits these efforts, as well as generous support from the Parent Board, for making her relocation to a nearby apartment as painless as possible.

“It’s all thanks to donations,” she says. “The Parent Board was responsible for making this happen for me. I can’t say enough about the heart that they have to continue helping students like me. It’s amazing.”

Coleman, a political science major, is looking forward to graduation this fall. With just a few summer classes to complete, she’s already researching job options, potentially with the State Department or Congress. She sees maintaining a positive attitude as crucial.

“Despite setbacks, the more we come together, the more we transcend our difficulties. I’ve lived through a lot of negative things, but you have to press on. When you have faith and focus on the goodness of things, goodness is sure to come.” — Julene Snyder

Photo: Maria Coleman alongside her sons, Joseph and Jason.

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