By Ed Martin, Editor
College grad Topazio Guzman
College grad Topazio Guzman

This past year is one we would all like to forget. But, unfortunately, the Coronavirus continues to hover over much of our everyday existence. It forced us to wear masks for months and refrain from much that was normal – and still, it lingers.

Schools and universities adopted innovative scheduling to deal with the Pandemic, but COVID-19 remained a threat.

While we continue to stare down the disease, things seem to be improving. Vaccinations have made us all a little safer. Yet life goes on, and many do their best to continue the fight and go on with their lives.

Amid the death and the disease, there have certainly been positive stories of Americans who braved the disease and those who did the best they could to go on with life.

One such person is Topazio Guzman, a Lemoore High School graduate who just 18 months ago decided to return to college. During that year and one-half, Guzman hauled books to class, completed homework assignments, and managed to take care of two children, ages six and eight. She also works full-time. She accomplished all this while enrolled at Fresno Pacific University –  and of course while dealing with one of history’s worst pandemics.

Her reward? The talented young lady, who currently works for Kings County, earned a degree in business administration, emphasizing organizational leadership. She also was one of Fresno Pacific's top students, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

How does a pretty and smart young woman with two young children manage to hold a job, take care of two children, and attend school nearly full time?

“It was actually stressful,” remembered Guzman. “I don’t know how else to put it. I just had to make sure I was motivated and prioritize my work to get everything done.”

It wasn’t her first stab at higher education. Right out of high school, she enrolled at Fresno State, where she admits she was a C and D student. “I just wasn’t focused too much on school,” she recalled.

She was a solid student at Lemoore High, where she earned average grades, including Bs and Cs. While at Fresno Pacific, the driven young woman focused on her studies, completing her degree with a 4.0 GPA. “Getting a 4.0 at Fresno Pacific College was a big accomplishment for myself,” she said.

“I hope my story inspires someone out there who is indecisive about going back to school either because of their age, working full-time, or because of their small children,” said Guzman.

“I am here to let you know that if I did it, so can you. Eighteen months ago, I made my appointment with Fresno Pacific University to pick up where I left off at Fresno State. Since then, I never looked back, and these eighteen months went by so fast.”

Guzman admits her educational journey was stressful, and she said it took a lot of sacrifices, from family time to small family gatherings, to survive to get through school. But she was a motivated young woman, and that motivation kept her going – even through a pandemic.

“I was able to manage straight A’s – even during a pandemic, working full time, and having my children home for distance learning.”

And with everything quickly changing during 2020, you would think Guzman’s mental state might have faltered, but she didn’t even think about it.  “I kept going because I knew what my goal was, and I did not let anything stop me from reaching it. God knew the plans he had for me, and he knew that this was the right time for me.”