Eloisa Contreras standing with her AA-T DegreeEloisa Contreras is using her Spanish language skills to help her community. 
A returning student, Contreras enrolled at San Bernardino Valley College in 2016, wanting to perfect her Spanish in order to become a certified interpreter for the health care or court system. In addition to taking several Spanish and Chicano history classes, Contreras was a supplemental instructor for the Spanish department and a member of Sigma Delta Mu. 
"All of my professors were very helpful and would motivate me," the San Bernardino resident said. "They were very understanding of my situation. I'm a single mom and my son has autism, and my professors were very supportive." 
Contreras made San Bernardino Valley College history in March when she became the first student to receive an AA-T degree in Spanish. The AA-T degree guarantees admission to the CSU system with junior status, and this fall, Contreras will continue her studies at Cal State San Bernardino. 
"I thought that was very special, and it's an honor to be the first student to receive the Spanish degree at SBVC," she said. 
With an AA-T degree, students are able to transfer "being much closer to meeting their academic goals and with a specific emphasis," Spanish instructor Nori Sogomonian explained. Sogomonian was always impressed by Contreras' hard work, and said she stood out by helping her peers when they struggled and turning in "thoughtful" essays. "She has a warm and helpful communication style and creates a comfortable learning atmosphere," Sogomonian said.