SAN MARCOS — Not long after graduating from high school, Laura Szemenyei moved from Orange County to Temecula, trading bad influences and a troubled adolescence for yoga and a circle of mentors she looked up to.

About four years ago, just as things were improving, she found out she was pregnant, and it was quickly apparent that she would be raising a child on her own.

“Before I got pregnant, I always wanted to go to school to become a doctor,” she said. “Then I had my daughter, and I thought I would never, never be able to go back to school.”

But in 2018, she took the steps to enroll at Palomar, and today she is on the cusp of earning her associate’s degree, with plans to transfer to either Cal State Fullerton or Cal State San Marcos.

“Coming to Palomar changed my life,” she said. “I can actually see light at the end of the tunnel—things are going to be OK. Honestly, I’m just so proud to be here.”

Szemenyei said that after earning her business degree at a four-year university, she hopes to start her own company with the goal of helping people who are going through hard times.

“I can connect with people who come from nothing,” she said. “One day, I want to have my own yoga business, to give people who feel lost, the tools to heal from the inside out.”