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First-generation student Eric Tafoya knows a thing or two about transformation. After a troubled past, which included homelessness and prison, Tafoya decided to turn his life around and pursue an education.

Tafoya, who is working toward a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cal State San Bernardino, hopes to use his own experiences to positively influence others and use his education to help make an impact on society. His goal is to obtain his Ph.D. in either sociology or convict criminology.

Tafoya often speaks at rehabilitation centers, for both youth and adults, in hopes to inspire them and show them that it’s not too late to choose a different path, whatever their past mistakes may be.

“What better of an example than me?” asks Tafoya, who is part of CSUSB’s Project Rebound program.

Tafoya also works with the Prison Education Project, the largest volunteer-based prison education program of its kind in the United States, to educate incarcerated young adults and talk to them about everything from college literacy to life coping skills.

Since being at CSUSB, Tafoya says he has grown not just academically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He stays active on campus and is a student representative for the SMSU board to ensure that students are getting what they need.

While Tafoya is proud of how far he has come, he is especially proud of his teenaged son who also wants to pursue a college education.