Friday, July 25, 2014

#SoCanU: An artist gets her start at community college

Featured below is an interview with another #SoCanU project rockstar, Angelica! Angelica graduated from Seminole State College of Florida in 2011 and graduated from Stetson University with a bachelor's degree in art. She currently is an artist at Gallery on First, an illustrator for a children's book, and an assistant art director for a short film.

Favorite thing to do on the weekends?
Hang out with friends, which usually involves going to local art shows, concerts, and community events

Favorite food/meal?
Falafel, greek food, pizza, ice cream

What made you decide to choose community college?
It may sound negative, but I chose community college out of ignorance. I had absolutely no knowledge of how to apply to a big college nor did I think I could get in. 

I also I didn't think I could afford any other institution. It provided comfort and familiarity since my brother and everyone in my close social circle chose community college.

Were there any obstacles in your life prior to attending community college that you had to overcome? 
I was very self-concious and ashamed to smile because I had crooked teeth, I was very shy and insecure because of this, which affected my confidence a lot. 

It was my junior year in high school that I decided to stop feeling bad about my self and got a job at Haggen-Dazs so I could pay for braces. With my Dad's help, I made an appointment at an orthodontist and after a lot of discomfort and awkward drooling, two years later I got my braces out and payed off my debt. 

Through this experience my confidence skyrocketed not only because I was able to smile with no boundaries but also because I had done it myself, I payed for it myself. I consider it my first victory where I took full responsibility of something that made me feel insecure. This is the approach I take on whatever problem/obstacle I have now, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I try my best to take initiative and reach out to resources.

What obstacles did you overcome in community college and/or in your transfer university to achieve your degree?
I was never the type of girl that got involved, (I was a hermit in high school) but once I became friends with people who were at Seminole State College, I realized the importance of taking a leadership role and learning to advocate for things I was passionate about, like my heritage. 

I felt part of something bigger and with purpose, It made my experience so much richer. I became friends with people I would usually not talk to. 

As far as my experience at my university, I felt very much out of place. Most of the time I was alone...However, part of that experience helped me put all my time and effort into my senior thesis, where I excelled at and was very proud to show.

What is one of the most important things that helped you succeed in community college and beyond?
Getting involved in the Hispanic Student Association, and Seminole State Volunteers. It was through these organizations that I broke out of my comfort zone and had the chance to attend leadership retreats that helped me learn my strengths and weaknesses. 

I understood the impact of my involvement in the community as well as my role as a leader for my peers. I would also say that the quality of mentors pushed me to embrace my strengths and believe I could become an artist. 

The professors I had also made a huge impact, since the art program was so small the professors provided close attention to our progress and gave all their support.

What are you most excited about for your future right now?
Grad school and traveling, now that I have gotten some exposure locally and I have experienced artistic success I feel very confident and motivated to continue my pursuits in a higher institution.

My goal is to study abroad and hopefully receive my master's in London, Chicago, or New York. I am ready to explore my horizons.

What is the best piece of advice you can give our readers who are currently attending community college?
To look past the stereotypes of a community college and to fully take advantage of the resources and opportunities that are offered; like joining clubs, leading clubs, creating relationships with professors and staff. 

Being fully involved academically and socially is what gets you scholarships and sets you apart from students who limit their experience to be solely academic. 
I know it can be a challenge specially if you have a job but it is possible. 

Once you start applying to other colleges and universities they look at what you have done and how you have performed in previous institutions, so it's only to your advantage to take advantage. It's full circle.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The SKiNNY on College Completion!

#SoCanU: From remedial math to calculus

Featured below is an interview with another #SoCanU project rockstar, Sarah! Sarah graduated from Lake Sumter State College May 2014 and is currently pursuing her bachelor's in global business at the University of South Florida. 

Favorite thing to do on the weekends?
Lay out in the sun with some friends or go to the beach and relax.

Favorite food/meal?
Anything Italian... sooo I'd say chicken Alfredo!

What made you decide to choose community college?
So I could stay home, save money, still be with my friends and family while I needed to grow up a little.

What obstacles did you overcome in community college and/or in your transfer university to achieve your degree?
I really struggled in math when I got to college. I didn't like math all my life, until I had an amazing professor. I went from remedial math to calculus! I even tutor math now.

I also have a learning disability called dyslexia. It is a reading learning disability that can hinder a lot. I never let that be an excuse and never will even though I will have this disability my entire life.

What are you most excited about for your future right now?
What is most exciting is that I have so many goals and I'm already fulfilling them. The crazy part is, is that I have no idea where life with take me and I'm okay with that.

What is the best piece of advice you can give our readers who are currently attending community college?
Never give up, don't let others make decisions for you. Don't be a follower, if you have something to say...say it! You can do anything you set your mind to, if you really want it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#SoCanU: From teen mom with two kids to mom with two master's degrees

Featured below is an interview with another #SoCanU project rockstar, Shartelle! Shartelle graduated from Mt. San Jacinto College in 1998 and now has two master's degrees. 

What is your current job? 
I work as a Generalist Counselor at Mt. San Jacinto College. 

Favorite thing to do on the weekends?
My favorite weekends are when I get to go wakeboarding in Mexico. Also, I love to be in the sun hanging out by the pool with friends and family.

Favorite food/meal? 
I love all types of food but especially Italian. 

What made you decide to choose community college? 
I graduated from a pregnant teen school and I was first generation student. I didn’t know much about going to college so I chose a college that was close to home. I had to work and take care of two small children so the community college was convenient plus it was inexpensive. At the time, I didn’t know there were financial resources for college students. 

Were there any obstacles in your life prior to attending community college that you had to overcome? 
Having two children by the time I was nineteen and having to work two jobs while going to school was very difficult. 

Also, I struggled with reading and writing so I had to build the foundation. I took remedial courses in college to improve my reading and writing skills. 

What obstacles did you overcome in community college and/or in your transfer university to achieve your degree?
There were a lot of sleepless nights, car problems and troubles finding a babysitter. I would study when my children went to sleep. 

As far as my car, I had to have people push start it for me or park it on a hill. It was awful. I worked extra hours to buy a newer car. 

I also had difficulties finding a babysitter but no matter how difficult it got I would find a way to get to school. My mother always stated, “If there is a will there is a way,” which encouraged me. 

What is one of the most important things that helped you succeed in community college and beyond? 
I had a counselor who was my mentor. She believed in me along the way. She always encouraged me and when I doubted myself she was there for me. Also, if I didn’t have my parents and friends’ support, I do not think that I would have ever made it through college. 

What are you most excited about for your future right now? 
I really enjoy my career. I wake up excited to go to work and help community college students. 

What is the best piece of advice you can give our readers who are currently attending community college? 
Believe in yourself, you can do anything that you set your mind to. Even when difficulties come, if you stay focused and never give up, you will accomplish your goal. 

I think it is very important to connect with a mentor and develop a support system. Also, you should surround yourself with people who believe that you can accomplish your educational goals.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#SoCanU: From struggling in HS to a master's degree

Featured below is an interview with another #SoCanU project rockstar, Debbie! Debbie graduated from St. Louis Community College in December 2011 and received a bachelor's in speech communication from Webster University in May 2013. She will graduate with her master's this December!

What is your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
It depends on the season. Now that it is summer, I like to take advantage of what St. Louis has to offer. Urban hiking, new foods, concerts in the park, the Muny, zoo, float trips and so much more!

Favorite food/meal?
Mexican food or Panda Express (Whataburger if I'm in the south).

What made you decide to choose community college?
I was not a good high school student. I had attended three high schools in three different states. I felt I needed to start somewhere small to test the waters and see if I was even college material.

What obstacles did you overcome in community college and/or in your transfer university to achieve your degree?
The only obstacles I fought and won were the people around me telling me I was doing too much and why bother with this society called Phi Theta Kappa. At my age I shouldn't bother with it. I should just go to school and be done.

What is one of the most important things that helped you succeed in community college and beyond?
Stay involved!!!!! Phi Theta Kappa, Pi Kappa Delta (debate team) and community service. Learn from the classroom and learn from life. Build your resume and build your character.

What are you most excited about for your future right now?
Now that I have found things I love doing, it's time for someone to pay me for doing them. Searching for the right career with the right pay and the right culture.

What is the best piece of advice you can give our readers who are currently attending community college?
Never give up and use the obstacles and hardships as part of your experience. Fight for your education. Remember it's not just to improve your life but the lives of those around you. If you are setting your goals and driving to achieve them, you are already AWESOME!