Francheska Casilla

Francheska Casilla

Francheska Casilla
Bachelor of Arts in Social and Criminal Justice, 2013

“My life experiences have taught me that it does not matter where you are from or what is around you, but what type of person you are and how much determination you have to succeed.”

Francheska is one of those people who not only refuses to fail, but also insists on being the best at whatever she attempts. She was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx. “Growing up in New York City wasn’t always easy, but it was always interesting.” She tells the story of metal detectors and gang fights at her high school, of violence, drugs, and crime in her neighborhood, and of the constant feeling that “you had to become something out of nothing or let the streets swallow you.” Graduating Valedictorian of her high school class, Francheska clearly chose the former.

Not surprisingly, Francheska was accepted to a good college in New York City. But when her high school sweetheart asked her to marry him, she made the decision to move to North Carolina, promising her parents she would finish college after she was settled. “A few months later, I found out that I would not be attending college for a while because I was two months pregnant and my newlywed husband was being deployed. The hardest thing I have done was watch the love of my life board a bus and leave for war while I stayed behind with our child in my belly.”

Always the survivor, Francheska took a deep breath and flew back to New York City where she gave birth to Viktoriyah. “Watching my daughter sleep one day, I realized that if I wanted her to have a better life than I did, I needed to finish my education.” She began to search for military-friendly online programs and found Ashford University. She was enrolled in her first class by the time her husband returned to meet his three-month old baby girl.

Francheska’s Admissions Counselor described her as determined and passionate. “Francheska was my youngest student, and yet, she took on more responsibility than most of my graduate-level students. I explained to her that, because of her age, in order to qualify for admission she would be required to write a one-page essay. When I read her Under-22 Appeal Essay, I honestly began to tear up. Needless to say, the appeal was approved. She was a brilliant student with a heart of gold, and I’m truly honored to have played a part in her success.”

Obtaining a college degree is nowhere near the end goal for Francheska. When we spoke to her, she wanted to join her husband as a member of the United States military after she graduated. Here goal was to apply for Air Force Officer Training School, and, upon graduation, become an Active Duty officer and simultaneously pursue a Juris Doctorate to ultimately move into the JAG sector of the Air Force. “My life experiences have taught me that it does not matter where you are from or what is around you, but what type of person you are and how much determination you have to succeed.”

Francheska graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Social and Criminal Justice in 2013 at age 24. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors!