Leslie Barrera – Principia College

Leslie Barrera wants to open her own business after college. To reach her goal, she is studying business administration at Principia College. Now a junior, Barrera came to Principia from Houston, recruited by a former soccer coach, and is now a goalkeeper for the college’s women’s soccer team. She also plays on the college’s softball team.

Barrera chose Principia to challenge herself and adapt to a different environment. “Principia is a small campus and community, which I really love,” she says. “I grew up in a big community, so I just wanted to try and see more of small community.” Plus, the scenic nature of the Principia College campus was an attraction, with its bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, Barrera says.

Business administration offers many opportunities in the workforce, she says. Her father works in the heating and cooling industry, which interests Barrera. She is also considering possible careers in real estate or sports.

Barrera is the oldest of three children and a first-generation student. The college awarded her an A. Montgomery Ward Found ation Scholarship, available through ACI, to help finance her college education. That has helped her focus more on school. “As a student, I would feel a bit more pressure about working, instead of focusing on my studies. I’m the person that has trouble focusing on studies. I need more time, and so with the scholarship, it gives me the opportunity to focus more on my academics. It also gives me the opportunity to keep playing soccer.” Barrera says.

She is grateful for those whose donations made her scholarship possible. “It takes a big heart to give back,” Barrera says. “Being first generation, having to figure out things on your own, what career path, what scholarships to apply for … It’s a handful for first generation students that I can relate to. It takes some weight off my shoulders, and I’m grateful for what they do.”

One day, Barrera says she hopes to be in a position to help first-generation students. “Not many Hispanic students are able to get help or support to attend college. I have some friends that have struggled through that,” she says. “So going toward the future and thinking about helping others, friends, family attend colleges and pursue what they dream of, is what I strive for as well.”

In addition to playing the two Division 3 sports at Principia College, Barrera participates in the college’s Consulting Club.