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Building a foundation for the future

Published: Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Earning a bachelor’s degree can be challenging for any student. But Bessy Valera faced more hurdles than most.

“Growing up in Peru, my mother made sure I knew the importance of education,” said Valera, a recent Oklahoma State University-Tulsa graduate. “Unfortunately, higher education in Peru was completely unaffordable.”

Valera moved to the United States in 1996. Despite the difficulties that came with a language barrier, she found a career and settled in.

Life wasn’t always easy. She worked to provide for herself, then for her oldest daughter Grace. When she was pregnant with her daughter Faith, she hit a wall.

“I was fired after informing my employer I was pregnant,” Valera said. “I knew then I had to do something different to provide a better living for my daughters.”

Reaching Higher

Valera started with the English as a Second Language program at Tulsa Community College. When she completed those courses, she pushed on to an associate’s degree in human resources.

Valera admits she had a difficult time going to go back to school while working as a single mom, but she knew it would be worth it in the end.

“I just told myself, ‘if I don’t do it today, nobody is going to do it for me tomorrow.’”

From TCC, OSU-Tulsa was the only destination on her mind.

“I had the flexibility to work during the day and take classes in the evening. It was the only choice for me.”

She enrolled in the management degree program and continued her journey with a bachelor’s degree in her sights.

“It was tough. Every exam for me would take so long because I had to translate the questions in my head before I could answer them,” Valera said. “Thankfully, my professors at OSU-Tulsa were so understanding. I can’t imagine getting through it without their help.”

With the support of family, friends and OSU-Tulsa staff and faculty, Valera felt like she could conquer any challenge.

“My car broke down on the evening of an exam,” Valera said. “I thought I was going to fail it. I emailed my professor and apologized. They told me, ‘don’t worry about it, we can reschedule. You take care of you.’”

Empowering with Education

Even balancing school, work and family, Valera found ways to plug into the Cowboy family and give back to her city.

She joined the Hispanic Student Association at OSU-Tulsa and took up the position of treasurer. Along with social and cultural events, Valera and her colleagues organized outreach projects to help Hispanic children at Tulsa-area schools understand the value of continuing their education.

Valera was also featured on a student panel for OSU-Tulsa’s ¡Sí Se Puede! conference, a bilingual college information event for the Hispanic community.

“I don’t think of myself as a role model or anything like that. But I wanted to show people one thing: If I can get my degree, so can you.”

Now Valera has graduated, landed a job that utilizes her management background and bilingual skills, and expresses pride in her accomplishments.

“I earned my degree. No matter what happens, the knowledge I gained and experiences I had are with me, and nobody can take that away from me.”

If you’re interested in changing or furthering your career, contact OSU-Tulsa Prospective Student Services to see what path is right for your goals. Prospective Student Services can be reached at 918-594-8355 or any time at


Even while employed full-time, raising her daughters and working through a language barrier, Bessy Valera accomplished her goal to earn a bachelor's degree.

Media Contact: Aaron Campbell | 918-594-8046 |