NORWALK – Yadira Gudino always believed the road to a better life begins with a good education, but an abusive marriage put her life on a different path at age 19. “He always had a very dominant personality, and it started with him wanting to control me,” she said of her ex-husband. “He would take my money, and he was aggressive, and then he started to hurt me physically.” A decade later, Gudino, who now lives in a domestic violence shelter with her two young children, is trying to get her life – and her education – back on track. She is ready to begin again, after being named a Women’s Opportunity Award recipient by the Soroptimist of Santa Fe Springs. The annual award is given to women who have overcome adversity but still need financial help to further their education, said WOA organizer Annette Rodriguez. Gudino, 29, however, is not typical of most awardees, many of whom have overcome drug-addiction problems, Rodriguez said. “The reason they picked Gudino is because she was just so determined to better herself. She’s never been on drugs, so that was different, that wasn’t her issue,” she said. “Her issue was being abused by her husband and coming to the United States not knowing anybody and feeling insecure about herself. But the way she spoke, she’s still very positive. She doesn’t want to be a welfare burden. She just wants to make a career for herself,” Rodriguez added. That is something Gudino has believed since she was a teenager attending school and working full-time in Michoacan, Mexico. When she met her husband in Mexico, his schedule called for him to work nine months out of the year in New York and three months in Mexico. In 2000, he brought his wife and daughter to the United States, where he got a job in Anaheim. Gudino was pregnant with her son, knew no English and had no friends or relatives around. Then the abuse began to escalate, culminating in a violent outburst in which he hit Gudino in front of her daughter. She made a police report and officials helped find her temporary housing. “I want her to live a better life,” she said of her daughter. “For me, I thought, `I’m going to lose whatever I lose – but my daughter will be the one who wins.’ She’s the one who made me get out.” With a boost from the $800 check she will receive from the Soroptimist, Gudino hopes to complete the English classes she is taking. She wants to get her GED and possibly take some business or accounting courses. Meanwhile, the shelter she is living in provides day care while Gudino is at school. “I was very happy when I found out I’d won,” she said. “The best thing I can do is study. I go to counseling and I’m pretty busy, but I’m making our lives better.” Gudino will be honored by the Soroptimist at a “Tea for Two” fund-raising event at 11 a.m. March 4 at Town Center Hall, 11740 Telegraph Road, Santa Fe Springs. Donations are $20 per person. For more information, call (562) 665-8956. firstname.lastname@example.org (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!