Laveen, AZ Single Mom Renews Hope After Earning $1,500 Grant

Posted By on March 9, 2020

Pursuing a double major is difficult for many individuals. Add on the complexity of the double major being in molecular biosciences & biotechnology and biochemistry pursued by a single mom with three jobs. It seems like a nearly impossible scenario.

For Laveen, AZ resident Cynthia Carrizoza, 29, this is the ambitious path she embarked on to create a better life for her and her 15-year-old son, Meiklo.

To do it, she’s spread out her studies over the course of more than 10 years, starting classes in 2010 only one year after she moved to Phoenix. She juggles three jobs – one full-time and two part-time. The full-time position is in clinical research at a nephrology practice and on the weekends she is a hairstylist and bartender. She rotates between part-time and full-time student status as she squeezes in one or two classes a semester – as much as she can take with her schedule.

Cynthia acknowledges she didn’t take the easy route but likes how her choice to work hard sets a good example for Meiklo.

“Don’t forget all the hard work in between,” she reminds him. “It’s the small homework assignments that make a difference. Learning makes it easier now and the details make all the difference.”

Cynthia was searching for a way to offset the cost of education and can across local nonprofit Soroptimist International of Phoenix when she was working at her hairstylist job. She learned that the organization’s Live Your Dream program selects three women each year to receive a grant up to $3,000. She decided to apply. When she won one of the three grants and attended the luncheon to receive recognition, she took a hard look at the educated women in attendance.

“I never looked at myself as a role model but when I met the Soroptimist women who are so successful and educated, I thought, ‘That is my future.’” Cynthia said. “I want to mentor young girls and help. That’s the way I can give back.”

Soroptimist International of Phoenix is not only deeply committed to giving individual women new opportunities, but it also looks at ways to lift women up as a whole.

This March, Soroptimist International of Phoenix once again became the local partner for LUNAFEST, the fundraising film festival dedicated to championing women filmmakers and bringing women together in their communities. This is the fifth consecutive year the club is sponsoring the film festival, which is coming to Phoenix on March 15.

LUNAFEST is an event that highlights the talents of women in cinema featuring seven short films illustrated by women filmmakers. The films range from animation to fictional drama and cover topics such as women’s health, body image, relationships, cultural diversity and breaking barriers.

With the rise of the MeToo Movement and negative criticism of the Academy Awards snubbing female directors, LUNAFEST is a modern glimpse of the talents of women who may not otherwise have an opportunity to shine. There are more than double the number of male directors than female directors, a statistic LUNAFEST would like to balance out over time.

Tickets are now on sale for LUNAFEST. The event will be held Sunday, March 15, with an informal reception beginning at 4 p.m. and the showing of the LUNAFEST films at 5 p.m. at Madison Center for the Arts, 5601 N. 16th Street, Phoenix. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased here. (

The mission of Soroptimist International of Phoenix is to empower women and girls by providing access to, and support of their educational objectives. To learn more about the inspiring work they do to empower women, visit

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