Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Winona State University student Anacorina Velasco, better known as Cora, moved to Winona in 2012.

Velasco received a scholarship to attend WSU but was initially hesitant to attend a university in Minnesota, far from her home, far from her family and friends. She almost decided to stay in Venezuela, but her brother convinced her the scholarship was just the beginning of the opportunities she would find at Winona State.

“So here I am,” she said.

Velasco originally pursued a degree in broadcasting but soon found her calling in Business Administration and in bringing Dream Closet to the Winona community.

Dream Closet, a pending non-profit organization, accepts gently used accessories and clothing donations and gives them back to members of the community who cannot afford clothes, free of charge.

For Velasco, it’s about creating change and doing work that matters.

“Being a leader is about pushing others to be the greatest version of themselves,” said Velasco. “The more you give, the more you will get.”

Velasco learned this work ethic from the faculty and staff at WSU, whom she said cared about their students and worked hard for their success, but also encouraged the students to learn and grow on their own.

“Nothing was handed to me, but I had amazing people around me that pushed me to pursue things that formed exactly who I am going to be as a professional,” said Velasco.

Velasco said she also felt empowered to dream big and take risks because of the supportive community she experienced at WSU.

“I am proud to graduate from WSU because it is a safe place where everyone is allowed to have an opinion. The diversity in our University is amazing.”

For Velasco, the college experience is so much more than just going to class. “It will sound crazy and you will probably get so busy that your head feels like it is about to explode, but it is worth it. Put in effort in the classroom, in your extracurricular, in your friendships and relationships. The work, the friendships, the networking, and the satisfaction of a job well done are worth it.”

WSU Fall Commencement Ceremonies will be at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9 in McCown Gymnasium. The 10 a.m. ceremony will feature the Colleges of Business, Education and Science, and the 2 p.m. ceremony will feature the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Nursing and Health Sciences. For more information, visit http://www.winona.edu/graduation/commencement.asp