After Kasandra returned to her hometown of Oaxaca, Mexico, her world started to get rough. I had good grades in middle school, she said, and I started to play softball for the state team. But I often wondered if I could ever have a true friend. Living the Church's standards created criticism toward me, and I didn't know how to deal with it.
Kasandra knew that to get into a Church school she should be enrolled in early-morning seminary. She soon found, however, that she needed seminary for more reasons than that. There, she discovered that Jesus Christ was the best friend she could ever have.
Every morning, little things like personal prayer and scripture study started to make a difference in my life, she said. Seminary helped me live in faith for better days ahead. Such faith would be needed to sustain her for the trials to come as well.
While in Mexico City on a trip with her father, Kasandra said he felt impressed to tour the Benemerito de las Americas Academy, then an LDS high school. After the tour, I felt I needed to go there, said Kasandra. I was really excited and applied, but I didn't get accepted. I waited another year and finally got accepted.
Kasandra had a wonderful experience her junior year at Benemerito. I lived in the same house with 15 girls, she said. I was surrounded by so many brilliant people that I felt like coal in the middle of diamonds.
Kasandra envied her roommates. They understood gospel doctrine well, learned really fast, finished their class assignments on time, and understood mathematics perfectly! she said. Their English skills were excellent, and they could play piano and were really athletic. I struggled in all those areas!
Not one to give up, Kasandra decided to use her roommate's accomplishments as motivation. I read my scriptures more frequently, prayed more often, and worked more diligently on my personal progress, she said. I joined clubs, became more aware of other people, and even began talking more often to the family who took care of me.
Kasandra's grades went up, she started to play hymns with chords, and she received a Primary calling to teach a CTR class. For the first time in a long time, life was good, said Kasandra. Then Elder Jeffrey R. Holland came to the school and announced the First Presidency's decision to close it. He said the Church would move the Mexico Missionary Training Center there.
I couldn't believe it, said Kasandra. Things were going so well. I found myself asking God why it took me two years to get there only to have to return home after just one year. I didn't want to go back, but I had to graduate.
As Kasandra finished her studies and neared graduation, she remembered what her host att Benemerito had suggested LDS Business College. I found the website and started to watch their YouTube channel, said Kasandra. I watched every single video. I definitely liked the idea of living in Salt Lake City and starting college at a smaller school. I started my application, and my family started to save money for my education.
Then Kasandra's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. That changed everything, said Kasandra. My mom knew how important a college education was for me, but she asked if we could use my college money to pay for her treatment. I had no doubts and said we would be fine.
After graduation, Kasandra helped care for her ailing mother, cook for her siblings, and take them to school. She would then go to the gym and help her dad in his business. She learned features in Photoshop and did social media for his business. She also used social media to reach out to single adults in her ward. Kasandra volunteered as an EFY counselor, using her talents to design an electronic ticket and a QR code to help subscribe 1,000 teenagers.
I started to work on my college application again before my mom finished her cancer treatment, said Kasandra. But I failed the required English proficiency test by two points. I was really disappointed and felt so stupid.
Kasandra then learned she needed to move with her mom to Puebla six hours from Oaxaca so her mom could finish treatment. "I found my English teacher there who had moved to Puebla after Benemerito closed its doors," said Kasandra. "I told her about my goals, and she offered to help. I stayed in her home for two weeks and took an intensive course in English. She helped me overcome my lack of focus and my insecurity about failing again."
Kasandra retook the English proficiency test and passed. She applied to LDSBC, was accepted, then made arrangements to move to Utah. She chose to major in social media marketing at LDSBC. Interestingly, the College has the only accredited social media marketing program in the nation.
When I arrived, I found that everyone at LDSBC is here for a reason, said Kasandra. Students were really nice to me and had such strong testimonies. I couldn't believe I got to attend Devotional every week on Temple Square and faculty members were so nice. I felt so grateful that I could talk about God in every class and my good male friends were worthy priesthood holders.
Two years have already passed, and during this time Kasandra has made the most of her college experience. She joined DECA, became an officer, and won several regional and national awards in marketing strategy. She earned an academic scholarship for her second year, and she is excited to enrich others and celebrate diversity by mentoring international students at LDSBC.
You can always find opportunities to get involved, she said, â€œwhether you attend a service activity or sign up to be an active college volunteer. The College hosts events such as Foundations for Success, Together for Greatness or Learn to Earn that have been answers to my prayers.
Staying involved has continued to bless Kasandra. After winning a DECA award, I was invited to a presidential dinner, she said. I met some donors there, and I felt so deeply grateful for their generosity in helping hundreds of students get such a unique educational experience. I am seeing the better days ahead I yearned for years ago.