Nora Renteria

If Nora Renteria ’05 has learned anything from her experiences, it is that oftentimes you just have to “go for it.”

Renteria, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Columbia College-Lake County, has contributed to a new book of inspirational true stories titled “Today’s Inspired Latina: Life Stories of Success in the Face of Adversity.” Now an operational risk manager at financial firm BMO Harris Bank, Renteria has faced her fair share of adversity on her path to success.

Renteria’s chapter of the book, one of 26, focuses on the vitality of receiving an education, regardless of what obstacles may be in the way.

“My particular story really emphasizes getting yourself prepared and the importance of education, which I strongly believe in,” Renteria says. “It is so important to get yourself prepared for school and to complete school, through whatever challenges you face.”

Renteria speaks from experience; she wasn’t prepared for college. She didn’t have the grades to go to college when she graduated from high school, and her parents couldn’t afford to pay for her education. But Renteria didn’t let challenges stop her.

“I tried to really stay driven and to break my goals into pieces, telling myself every semester to just get this semester completed,” Renteria says. “I focused on surrounding myself with other college students I could team up with, finding individuals I could help when they were struggling and who could help me when I was struggling.”

Todays Latina Book_Book CoverRenteria says this is an important message to all young people, but particularly to young Hispanic people, who she says often may not even graduate high school. She says part of the issue is that the parents of these first-generation American citizens often do not understand how to make college happen for their children.

“Our parents don’t know about college; my mom didn’t speak English or finish high school,” Renteria says of her parents, who moved to the United States from Mexico when she was 4. “And I see this a lot with young women in Chicago. Their parents don’t understand the importance of college or know how to get things together for the child to go to college. Part of why I want to share my story is because I want everybody to be successful, and I want individuals to make better decisions.”

Renteria has a 6-year-old daughter of her own, and she says it was her daughter that kept her focused as she wrote her chapter of the book, her first ever piece of published writing.

“It took a while to get my thoughts together and figure out what I wanted to share,” Renteria says. “Finally I thought, ‘What would I want my daughter to read?’ Of course my hope is she’ll be a straight-A student and she won’t have any issue getting into the college of her choice. But I asked myself what I thought she would benefit from, and it turned out that was what all young women could benefit from.”

Renteria says she stayed motivated through her challenges by staying driven on the path to her dreams, finding a support system and seeking out help from the plethora of resources available to college students. Her advice to young people in a similar situation is to do the same.

“To young people contemplating attending school, go for it,” Renteria says. “Do a semester at a time, stay driven and dedicated, and before you know it you’ll have a degree in your hand.”

Renteria and her fellow authors, which include entrepreneurs, motivational speakers and professionals in various industries including financial planning, health and insurance, are hosting a launch event for the book on May 21 in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. For more information on the book and the event, visit