Berkeley Today Stories

Elizabeth Santacruz is a Berkeley College graduate.

Berkeley College Alumna Determined to Raise Awareness for Lupus

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Graduating from Berkeley College in 2005 with a B.B.A. in Accounting, Elizabeth SantaCruz credits taking classes in Woodland Park, NJ, for expanding her business acumen and communication skills. As a staff accountant at Imagine Software, Inc., she not only applies those skills to her work, but also to raising awareness of Lupus – a chronic, autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue.

In February 2016, Ms. SantaCruz’s 9-year-old daughter, Miah, was diagnosed with Lupus after two years of visiting several doctors who were unable to determine what was wrong. “As a parent, it is important for me to spread Lupus awareness because I didn’t know anything about Lupus until her diagnosis,” said Ms. SantaCruz, a resident of Kearny, NJ, originally from Peru.

Ms. SantaCruz began working with the Multi-Cultural Outreach Task Force shortly after her daughter’s diagnosis. The program was created by the Lupus Research Alliance to help raise awareness among multi-cultural groups. In October 2016, Ms. SantaCruz also became the co-host of #LupusChat, an online discussion series that take places on Twitter and aims to connect those living with Lupus to educational resources.

Her efforts led to receiving a proclamation from Mayor Alberto Santos of Kearny, NJ, designating May as Lupus Awareness Month. Ms. SantaCruz and her daughter’s journey has also received attention from local newspapers and media outlets, including a television segment on PIX11 News.

“I hope one day there will be a cure for Lupus, but now my duty is to spread Lupus awareness,” Ms. SantaCruz said. “I have met with several Lupus advocates, and their stories are inspiring. It gives me hope for my daughter, and made me realize that I could make a difference.”

Elizabeth and her daughter with Mayor Alberto Santos of Kearny, NJ.       

 

Up Close with Elizabeth SantaCruz

What does success mean to you?
As a Latina, I knew that a college education was a milestone in my life and that it was important for getting ahead. Success means being the first one in my family to graduate college in the United States. Now as a mom of two, my personal definition of success is sharing my daughter Miah’s story with the world and knowing that I am increasing Lupus awareness among family, friends, co-workers and the community.

How did Berkeley College prepare you for success?
Berkeley College expanded my business mentality. I learned how to balance my college and work schedule, as well as how important communication and interpersonal skills are in the workplace.

What initially inspired you to enroll in Berkeley College?
What initially inspired me to enroll in Berkeley College was the diversity of its students. I was born in Peru, and when I arrived to the United States, it was a new environment, language and customs. There were only a few Hispanics in my high school. Yet Berkeley College felt just as if I were home.

What advice would you offer today’s college-bound students?
Participate in all of the campus activities. Networking is an important part of today’s competitive job market, so attending campus activities is a great way to break out of your shell.

What was your most memorable moment at Berkeley College?
I actually have two. The first one is the first day I walked on to campus. It felt surreal. I knew it was the beginning of my path. The second most memorable moment was graduation. When my name was called, I looked up to my parents and grandparents. I felt this accomplishment was also theirs.

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