Dayana Lituma-Solis

Southern Connecticut State University Class of 2021

NEW HAVEN, CT (APRIL 30, 2020) - Dayana Lituma is on a dual mission to make her parents proud and to do good in the world by helping families in critical need of speech pathology services. Soon to graduate Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in communications disorders, and with plans to pursue a Master’s in speech pathology, she is well on her way.

Lituma’s story is of a hard-working immigrant family who came to the U.S. in pursuit of opportunity. Her parents were accomplished professionals in Ecuador before moving to Connecticut in 2001. Her father was a doctor and her mother was a teacher in their home country. When they moved to the States, they had to adapt quickly to a new reality. Unable to transfer their careers, her mother worked in custodial services and her father worked mainly in construction to provide for their family.

“My parents sacrificed so much leaving their home country, coming over here, and I always felt like I owed it to them to go to school, get a higher education, and get a career because I didn’t want my parents’ sacrifice to be in vain,” Lituma said. “I never wanted to let them down, knowing how much they had given up.”

Lituma was able to follow her dream of pursuing the education she wanted with the assistance of the first awarded Progreso Latino Fund Founders Scholarship.

“The scholarship definitely provided a great sense of relief and comfort because it was nice knowing I had that financial support and being able to finish my studies,” Lituma said. “If I wasn’t able to pay for my tuition and pay for my fees, I probably wouldn’t be finishing school.”

Lituma is looking forward to graduating this month and beginning a Masters program in speech language pathology. She said her drive to become a speech pathologist stems from growing up with family members on the autism spectrum and their journey to find help.

“Being able to be present in that setting and see the impact of those therapists in the home had an impact, yes, on my cousin’s life but more so on the lives of my aunt and her husband who are dealing with the aftermath of having this new diagnosis in addition to preparing for what’s next,” Lituma said. “Being able to witness the impact it had on my aunt and how it made her life easier in terms of access to resources and ways that she could communicate better with my younger cousin, I fell in love with it.”

Lituma counts herself fortunate to have something like the Progreso Latino Fund championing for the Latino community in Connecticut. She said the fund creates opportunity and is critical to opening doors for folks like her.

“I’m definitely very grateful for funds such as the Progreso Latino Fund,” Lituma said. “They have a mission and a purpose to enhance the quality of Latino communities across the state of Connecticut and give Latino students opportunities that if it weren’t for the Progreso Latino Funds, they wouldn’t have access to.”