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Student Spotlight: Marely Saenz

Released by Panhandle State Campus Communications on 07/03/2018 Marely Saenz is a junior majoring in Biology at Panhandle State. She is pictured here with her husband, a Panhandle State graduate and their son. —Courtesy photo Marely Saenz is a junior majoring in Biology at Panhandle State. She is pictured here with her husband, a Panhandle State graduate and their son. —Courtesy photo

Goodwell, Okla. — Walt Disney said, “All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Junior and non-traditional student Marely Saenz is seeing this happen right before her eyes, but it’s not without plenty of hard work and determination.

Born in Monterrey Nuevo Leon and raised in Naica Chihuahua Mexico, Marely moved to Guymon, Okla. in September of 2011 after marrying her husband and biggest supporter, Damian Saenz earlier that year. Damian was born in California before moving to Guymon as a child. He is a 2012 graduate of Panhandle State. The couple met at an event in her hometown in Mexico. After that, they started a relationship that lasted from the summer of 2008 to 2011 and they got married that year. Soon after, they decided to move back to Guymon to begin their life together. This is where Marely’s experience with higher education begins.

She first made her way to the campus of Oklahoma Panhandle State University just to visit while her husband was still completing his courses. He introduced her to Director of Hispanic Student Services Teri Mora who says, “Marely is a pure joy and I have appreciated her willingness to be involved with HALO and other events on campus even before she was a student here. She is such an amazing example of perseverance and determination, pushing herself constantly to improve her English skills and excel in her classes. I look forward to great things for her.”

With a great deal of encouragement from her husband, Marely began taking ESL (English Second Language) courses in Liberal, Kan. at the Colvin Learning Center. When she first moved to America, she was only able to speak a small amount of English and Marely had a desire to get better at not only speaking English, but also writing it. After only about six months and rapid progress, her teacher suggested Marely begin courses at Seward County Community College.

“At first, I didn’t even realize I had started taking college courses,” she chuckles. “My husband had to tell me!”

After about a year and a half of basic courses, the couple made the decision for Marely to begin classes at Panhandle State and she is currently majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry.

“The teachers are very friendly and helpful. They make me feel more secure and confident.”

Dr. Justin Collins said, "Marley is a great student and a very determined young woman. She knows what she wants and what it is going to take for her to achieve her dreams."

For Marely, college wasn’t just the next step. Combine countless hours of listening to recorded lectures, writing, and studying, she has had to work hard for each of the achievements she has earned throughout her college career and she treasures the time she gets to spend learning.

“I love learning new things every day!”

Most recently, she was named to the President’s Honor Roll for the Fall 2017 semester and the Dean’s Honor Roll for Spring 2018 and is currently carrying a 3.7 GPA.

As far as future plans, Marely would like to pursue a degree in the medical field following the completion of her bachelor’s degree or possibly a teaching position. She hopes to encourage everyone with the success story she is currently writing in her own life.

“I hope to encourage a lot of people to come to college. I want everyone to realize they can do it. It is all in your mind. Think in a positive way, be persistent, and pursue your dreams.”

She and her husband have a little boy who just celebrated his first birthday. When not caring for him, it’s not unusual to find Marely and her husband reading through the most recent chapter in her textbooks or listening to a recording of one of her teacher’s lectures.

“He is so good to help me. If I can’t understand, he will sit down and read it with me and explain it. He also helps me proofread my papers.”

Damian Saenz is a Field Engineer at PTCI in Guymon and is currently completing his master’s degree in Project Management.

As if they don’t already stay plenty busy with studies and work, the couple is starting a new adventure and opening their own business called “La Catrina” in the former Panhandle Printing building in Guymon.