Campus ‘Neighbor’ Fulfills Dream to Attend WCSU

At age 11, Adamaris Loja, her father, and her sisters moved to Danbury from Ecuador after her mother’s untimely death. From her Osborne Street home, Loja could see and hear the hustle and bustle taking place at her neighbor, Western Connecticut State University’s Midtown campus.

By Sherri Hill

One day, being part of that community became a dream for the young girl adjusting to her new life.

“When I moved here, I needed to learn a new language, understand a new culture and make new friends,” Loja said. “Between those challenges and the loss of my mother, I became very introverted; but at Rogers Park Middle School, I had amazing teachers who supported me and taught me English.”

Loja went to Danbury High School, where she excelled at her studies with a 3.8 GPA and discovered her love of computers. When she graduated, she decided to fulfill her general education requirements at Naugatuck Valley Community College to continue to save money from her two part-time jobs to transfer to WCSU eventually. After a successful semester at NVCC, Loja had to pause her education due to family obligations.

During the spring and summer of 2022, Loja worked long hours at three jobs to save additional funds so that she would be able to focus on her studies once the fall semester started. She saw an advertisement for the American Dream Awards Scholarship sponsored by The New American Dream Foundation created by Tribuna Newspaper and, with encouragement from friends and family, decided to apply. The $3,000 scholarship, funded by Union Savings Bank, is awarded to an individual 16 years or older who is an immigrant or a child of immigrants living in the Fairfield County area and who has faced many challenges on their journey to achieve their American Dream.

“I had already applied to WCSU as a Management Information Systems major and was going to try to make it work without the scholarship, but when they called me over the summer to tell me I had won, I was crying with excitement,” Loja said. “Most of the students at Danbury High School apply because so many are immigrants or first-generation students, so there was a lot of competition.”

Coming back to college has been a big achievement, Loja said. “Mental health has had a huge impact on my family, and I felt like a failure when I didn’t finish what I started at NVCC. I love school, learning, and homework — I’m a nerd — and now I’m encouraged and finally proud of myself. Losing my mom and having to help my family are no excuses for not finishing. My dad tells me he’s proud of me every day and has supported me through everything. I want to make him proud for all the sacrifices he’s made for my sisters and me.”

On her first day of classes, Loja’s boyfriend, a 2022 WCSU graduate, escorted her to each of her classes so she wouldn’t have to struggle to find her way around the campus where she had grown up next to. Loja said that finally, being able to attend her “neighbor” university has fulfilled her childhood dream. She’s a commuter student who walks across the street to school.

“It’s perfect for me,” she said. “The professors have been really good to me. I know after this; my life is going to change.”

To learn more about Western Connecticut State University, visit, email or call (203) 837-9000.