Skip to content

  • Print

Eberhardt grad and young mother sets sights on Cambodia

May 8, 2019

Alexes Santana

Alexes Santana ’19 has experienced more than most peers her age. The Stockton native is a transfer student, world traveler, works full time for her family’s business and is a single mother to her 4-year-old daughter, Lily. She’s a nontraditional student by all accounts. 

Santana began working at her father’s commercial real estate company, Northgate Commercial Real Estate, when she was a junior in high school. A self-proclaimed “rebel,” she had dreams of going to college in San Diego and becoming an artist or writer, but her life took a turn when she found out she was pregnant the summer before her senior year. News that would cause many young adults to shelve their dreams, instead, propelled her forward.

“There was so much of me that thought my future was lost when I first discovered I was pregnant, but it was a blessing in disguise,” Santana said. “My daughter completely changed who I was. It was because of Lily that I graduated high school, began my studies at San Joaquin Delta College and transferred to Pacific.”

She was drawn to the Eberhardt School of Business and enrolled in the entrepreneurship track, one of the newest concentrations offered by the school. She found the out-of-the-box curriculum was the perfect match to her unconventional path and future goals.

“After my first semester here, I knew I had made the right decision,” she said. “Pacific has given me the education I was craving with intimate classes where I was able to interact with classmates and professors on a personal level. Pacific really helped me lay out my future and feel comfortable with all of my big dreams that before seemed unreachable.”

At Pacific, she blossomed. She joined a sorority as the social chair, and this year became the inaugural recipient of the Meryam Aloui Emerging Entrepreneur Endowed Scholarship.

On working and going to school as a new mom, Santana recalled, “It felt like I was on the move nonstop. When I was done with one part of my day, I was on to the next. There were a lot of late nights, but the hardest part was the mental exhaustion. The only thing that could keep me moving forward some days was knowing that I wasn’t doing this for myself. This was all to make the best life possible for my daughter. That was always my No. 1 priority.”

Now, Santana has dreams of making life better for other children. Last summer, she accompanied her father on a business trip to Cambodia where she fell in love with the country and learned about the horrors of the Khmer Rouge genocide that wiped out more than 1 million people and targeted educated groups.

“There is such a generational and educational gap there. I saw how much need there was, and I started to think about ways I could hold business internationally while still helping the country,” said Santana. “My plan is to get my master’s degree in international business and help improve their education system so that more children have the opportunity to go to school. After all, I don’t know where I would be without school today.”

She’s already on her way to making that dream a reality. This fall, she and Lily will move to San Francisco where Santana will begin a year-long master’s degree program at Hult International Business School. Until then, she’s looking forward to graduation where she will share her story during the Eberhardt School of Business diploma and hooding ceremony.

“I know my favorite moment will be seeing Lily running to me with a hug and a kiss at the end of the ceremony. I will be standing on that stage for her.”

Read more student success stories »

Join University of the Pacific on: Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn Youtube