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The definition of a glow stick

Ariana Ortega shines bright far away from home
Ariana Ortega graduated from Campbellsville University’s ESL program in December of 2023. “I am so proud of myself, and thankful for all the people who helped me throughout this journey,” Ortega said. She’s pictured with Raquel Cunha, director of the ESL Program, and Joshua Detherage, assistant director of ESL.

Coming from the other side of the globe, Campbellsville University freshman Ariana Ortega is full of dreams, filled with optimism and has a clear vision of what she wants to do in the future.

Ortega was born and raised in Venezuela. She came to the United States with the plan of graduating from the ESL program (English as a Second Language.) In December 2023, she achieved this dream, after one year of dedication and learning.

“My ESL experience was great,” Ortega said. “I learned so much. My instructors made me step out of my comfort zone and be a greater human being, where I can develop and start my new journey.”

At just 19, Ortega has many aspirations and dreams she wants to achieve. She’s currently completing her undergraduate degree in psychology.

“I want to finish my degree here, and maybe pursue my master’s degree in Europe,” Ortega said. “After that, I plan to work in a hospital here in the U.S. as a therapist. That is my dream.”

Ortega has a lot she has yet to accomplish, and there’s one thing she wants to add to Campbellsville’s athletic program.

“I would love to open a psychology program for athletes,” Ortega said. “As an athlete, you need a source of ‘help’ when you are struggling. Just as athletes step on the field, they have lots of problems outside of it, and that is why I think this idea could change a lot of their lives.”

Ortega is full of passion and desire, and there’s one individual who keeps her motivated while she’s so far from home.

Ariana Ortega said her mother, Glorimar Bracho, is who motivates her the most. “My mother is one of my biggest inspirations to be better every day,” Ortega said. “She is my anchor.”

“My mom is my biggest motivation to keep going and never give up,” Ortega said. “She is my anchor, someone that I will always think of when I want to be successful. I see my dreams, and I see her.”

Glorimar Bracho, Ortega’s mom, believes that coming to the U.S. has made her daughter much more mature and independent.

“Ariana is an incredible individual. She keeps surprising me every day,” Bracho said. “She has matured in so many ways, and I can see her progress flourish ever since she left the house to accomplish her dreams.”

Ortega was a shy person when she was little, but that changed completely after she stepped out of her comfort zone, according to Bracho.

“When she was younger, she was always with me, she would never leave my side,” Bracho said. “She was very timid and reserved. She would go to work with me, cook with me, everything with me. But I keep getting surprised at how much she has grown and developed to be independent. I could not be prouder.”

According to Bracho, her daughter is the definition of a “glow stick.”

“Ariana shines in everything she does and around everyone she is with,” Bracho said. “She has an impeccable personality, does not care what people think of her. She is always happy and vibrant.”

Besides academics, Ortega spends most of her time working at the Wellness Center as the smoothie barista in “Simple Blends.”

“I start my day by going to class in the mornings, and when I am free, I spend all my day working,” Ortega said. “I work around 18 hours a week, an average of four to five a day, where I can also do some homework and balance my work/academic life while I earn some money.”

After long days of work and school, Ortega loves spending time with friends.

“It could be complicated sometimes to manage a busy schedule, but at the end of the day, I always have my friends,” Ortega said.

Clara Asprella, one of Ortega’s best friends, says being around her is always a blessing.

“It is never a dull moment when I am with Ariana,” Asprella said. “She is always positive. She never cares what anyone says about her. At the age she is right now, she is one of the most mature people I have ever met.”

Asprella and Ortega met less than two years ago, and their friendship has flourished more day by day.

“She is always someone with a smile on her face,” Asprella said. “I know that every time I need something or someone, she will be there for me. I am so happy I got to meet someone as special as her.”

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About the Contributor
Daniela Benavides

Daniela Benavides is a senior at Campbellsville University. She was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, but most recently has lived in Lima, Peru. Benavides started her collegiate career at Waldorf University, a small four-year college in Iowa, after being awarded a soccer scholarship. Looking for better opportunities academically and athletically, Benavides transferred to Campbellsville University in August of 2023.

Benavides is a mass communication major, and is planning on being a sports photographer/videographer or social media manager in the future. She’s currently interning with the Sports Media Information staff as a photographer and videographer.

Benavides is looking forward to graduating and seeing what the future holds for her, as she is currently looking for jobs and optional practical training.

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