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.

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