Blooming as a Beacon: Jazzy Soria-Gonzalez’s ’28 “Eventful” First Year

Jazzy Soria Gonzalez '24 smiling at the camera in professional attire.

If you were to ask Jazzy Soria-Gonzalez ’28 to sum up her first year at Valparaiso University in one word, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear her respond with “eventful.”

As a freestyle swimmer for the Valpo women’s swim team and a double major in Spanish and marketing, having an eventful first year of college was to be expected, even more so for Jazzy.

The summer before freshman year, Jazzy participated in Valpo’s Bloom Scholars Program. Alongside four years of specialized programming, Bloom Scholars also have the opportunity to reside on campus during the summer and take part in a four-week intensive summer bridge program, which was Jazzy’s favorite part of the experience.

For Jazzy, the Bloom Scholars Program was more than a way for her to earn a scholarship and four college credits. It was an opportunity to preview college life, and more significantly, the experiences she’d have as a Valpo Beacon.

“Because the summer portion was so rigorous, it really does show you what college life will be like and how quickly deadlines come up,” Jazzy says.

Having graduated with a high school class of under 100 students in Lile, Illinois, Jazzy originally thought her college experience would have to be at a large school where she’d hardly know anyone’s name, but quickly came to realize she wanted a similar experience as she had in high school. 

Jazzy Soria Gonzalez '24 walks through a cheering group of welcoming Valpo students during FOCUS, new-student orientation..Light blue and brown halftone graphic with radiating lines overlaying photo of Jazzy Soria Gonzalez '24 smiling at the camera in professional attire.

“I never wanted to be just a number, I liked that one-on-one experience. I’ve always been really close to my teachers and had a relationship with them, and I realized I was looking for that in college, too. I want them to remember me, my name, and my impact,” she says.

Apart from pivoting her college search to look for smaller schools, she knew she wanted to swim and have two majors, all of which Valpo offers. As she realized Valpo was checking all her boxes, Jazzy visited, applied, and spoke to Swimming Head Coach Maggie Kroemer about her 10 years of swimming experience, ultimately becoming one of 14 female freshman recruits.  

“Everybody has their thing that helps them relax, and I can’t live without swimming. So, I thought I might as well try to do it in college,” she says.

After getting admitted to Valpo and making the swim team, Jazzy’s mom discovered the Bloom Scholars Program, which offered a $500 scholarship and 4 credit hours upon completion of the summer portion.

“At first, I was like, ‘I don’t need to do the program, I’m going to be fine.’ But after I applied, I was really nervous that I wasn’t going to get in, because I realized I wanted it and how helpful it could be for my transition,” she says.

Besides learning about how to balance a new rigorous college routine, Jazzy credits the Bloom Scholars Program for teaching her about the balance of relationships back home.

“Socially and academically, Bloom really did help me. It helped me set boundaries between my family and me. For instance, how often I should talk to them and how often I should check in,” she says. “ There were times where I would go a week without talking to my mom, and she’s like, ‘Okay, so I need to know if you’re dead or alive. You can’t just ghost me,’” Jazzy shares.

Having her own room growing up, living with roommates at Valpo was another big transition for Jazzy. Luckily enough, the roommate she had in the program, Veronica Melo ’28, is someone she now considers a best friend.

“My friendship with Veronica is definitely one of the best things to come out of all of this, and it’s been a pretty positive school year overall, thanks to her and my other friends,” Jazzy says.

Following the Bloom Scholars Program, Jazzy continued to receive the support she needed, her path illuminated by her student success coach, Raymond Blackman. Raymond is one of two Bloom Scholars Program student success coaches hired with funding from an Indiana Commission for Higher Education grant earlier this year.

“They take time to check up on your grades but also check on you. I need a little more support than others at times, because I can get off track, especially with swimming. There’s just a lot going on,” she says.

Jazzy Soria Gonzalez '24 smiles in a selfie-style photo with two other Valpo students, holding up personalized certificates from Valparaiso University's Bloom Scholars Program.

Going from having her mom help her stay organized and on track to doing it on her own, Jazzy found support in the transition through the Bloom Scholars Program and Raymond. After a rough first semester and continuing to learn how to balance school, swimming, and friends, Jazzy says she’s ending the school year on a high note.

The best thing to come out of the Bloom Scholars Program? Her friendships with Veronica and Xavier (Javi) Torress ’28. As Jazzy prepares for her sophomore year, she reflects on this past year with gratitude and optimism, ready to dive into the adventures and challenges that lie ahead. 

“Coming here and meeting Xavier and Veronica were kind of like finding lights in the dark. They stood by my side, and sort of guided me through everything. We did it together, and now we’ve finished our freshman year. We made it!” she exclaims.

With her first year behind her, she is eager to continue making waves both in the pool and in her academic pursuits — and we can’t wait to see it all unfold!

If you find Jazzy’s journey inspiring, learn more about our Bloom Scholars Program and discover all the opportunities that await you, too!

Jazzy Soria Gonzalez '24 smiling at the camera in professional attire.