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Alejandra Frost took a different path to her college degree than most. A native of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, she asked her parents to pay tuition to attend a bilingual high school. They sacrificed so she could learn English. After graduating, Frost helped her parents pay bills by working for a travel agency, and then for the United States Embassy. That’s where she met her husband Ryan. He was based in Maryland and provided IT support for the embassy. He is also bilingual, which helped as their online relationship developed into a romantic one.
The couple married and relocated to Utah, where Alejandra took adult education classes to improve her English proficiency. She enrolled in a community college and then set her sights on a four-year degree.
“No matter how old you are, whether or not you think you can accomplish a college degree – you can do it,” says the 34-year-old.
The Frosts moved to Arizona in 2011. Ryan started his own IT support company. Alejandra enrolled at ASU. She initially took accounting classes because she was good with numbers, but felt empty inside. She looked for a degree that would fit her passion and selected a nonprofit leadership and management degree from the School of Community Resources and Development in the College of Public Programs. Her goal was to get the education necessary to help give other kids in Honduras the chance she got.
“You just have to find inside yourself what your biggest desire is, and then go for it,” Alejandra says. “I had in mind those children. School is hard, but I knew if I did not pursue my education, I wasn’t going to be able to help them.”
The first in her family to earn a college degree, Alejandra graduated with a 3.98 GPA. She was selected as the outstanding graduate of the School of Community Resources and Development for the Spring 2014 College of Public Programs Convocation.
“She excels in all her classes and is very eager to learn. And she goes above and beyond in her coursework,” says Olga Lykhvar, retention coordinator at the School of Community Resources and Development. "The most important thing that stands out about her is that she is very compassionate and kind and really wants to change the world."
She is already making a difference. She interned at the West Valley Child Crisis Center, helping the nonprofit increase donations with a signature fundraising event. She is president of the relief society of the Kings Park LDS Ward in Glendale, coordinating efforts to help those in need. Alejandra and her husband also mentor and sponsor kids through One New Education, a Flagstaff-based nonprofit that provides educational opportunities to young women in undeveloped countries around the world.
That includes their eight year-old niece, Camilla Valle, who lives in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She was able to attend Alejandra’s graduation with her mother. Alejandra’s parents, Angel and Lucila Valle, also made the trip from Honduras, and Ryan's parents flew in from Maryland to celebrate the occasion.
“They were very, very touched,” says Ryan of his mother and father in-law. “They were both in tears.”
Ryan acknowledges that his wife would not be where she is today if not for the sacrifices of her parents, especially the burden it placed on her father.
“Because she was given a gift that someone else had to work hard for, she wants to repay that and pay it forward to others who have the same desire,” Ryan says.
Alejandra intends to pay it forward by creating a nonprofit that she and Ryan have been planning for years. The goal is to raise money to help kids like Camilla afford the kind of elementary and high schools that will help them achieve their dreams.
“I’ve always wanted to help others, but I was limited,” Alejandra says. “I could not help others because I had not helped myself. So now that I have a college education, I am capable of helping those kids.”