17:38 PM

UHCL grad plans to change the world, ‘I arrived to the U.S. with a suitcase and a dream’

Written by: Lauren Sawyer

At the age of 17, Sofia Assanmal-Pelaez arrived to the U.S. from Honduras with just a suitcase and a dream, but she knew she wanted to change the world. Sofia is obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and aspires to become a child life specialist and enroll in a master’s program after graduation. Although she “did it” and is excited about commencement, the journey was not easy.

Sofia briefly attended Texas A&M-San Antonio before relocating closer to home after her stepfather was diagnosed with cancer. She then enrolled at University of Houston- Clear Lake and continued her quest for change.

“I knew I wanted to change for the better when I felt the world was out to get me. I remember the exact day,” she said. “My stepfather was in the ICU, and we had just survived a tropical storm here in League City that destroyed our fence and left us without power for hours. This resulted in losing our fridge and all of our food,” she added.

 She didn’t know how to drive, there were no Ubers available, and she was home alone. Sofia said she wanted to give up in this cruel world, but in that moment, she realized she wanted to stay in the world to teach others kindness, patience and compassion.

“I promised myself that I would never let ‘me’ down. During my college experience, I survived a pandemic and two storms, I transferred colleges, lost friends and family, and almost lost myself to suicide,” she said.

But Sofia gained a lot too. Courage, wisdom, friends, experiences, lessons and a new pet. She traveled to Africa, learned to forgive, to be kind and appreciative.

When she isn’t studying, Sofia works as a full-time nanny, caregiver, mentor and friend, that enjoys riding her bike and traveling. Her family means everything to her, and she is thankful for her tribe.

“I am thankful for my baby sister’s strength, my mom’s willpower to survive, my stepfather’s courage to fight cancer and my best friend for never giving up on me,” she said. “A special thanks goes to the community that made it possible for me to graduate: my professors, Rush Cycle League City, my nanny families, my grandparents rooting for me in Honduras, my older sister and my boyfriend.”

To any students needing encouragement, Sofia said to “stay a little while longer.”

“Hug your family tighter. Stare at yourself in the mirror. You’re here, you’re good, now live your best life,” she said.

For more information about UHCL’s College of Human Sciences and Humanities, visit www.uhcl.edu/human-sciences-humanities/ . For more information about Fall 2023 Commencement, visit www.uhcl.edu/academics/commencement/.