You Are Not Alone

“What if I don’t have any friends? What if I don’t pass any classes? What if I don’t know how to study? Whom can I reach out to?” Asks every first year college student. I know those were a couple of questions I worried about when I first moved to UC Merced. My transitioning to college was rough but manageable. As much as I tried mentally preparing myself throughout summer I knew at some point I would face plenty of obstacles. One of my struggles was learning to gain my self-confidence; there were plenty of times I felt like I was not on the same level of knowledge as other students. I felt like I was behind and not prepared for college, a part of me was overwhelmed because I did not think I was what many consider “smart” enough for college. It wasn’t until one day I went to my English professor’s office hours and she asked, “How come you don’t participate in class?” As I started in silence, shocked that she noticed, I clearly remember answering, “I’m scared, I’m scared of being wrong.” And at that moment I couldn’t believe I was telling her how I felt. She looked at me and responded, “Oh honey, don’t you worry, you are here for a reason and that is to leave your mark, but in order to leave your mark and continue your goals you have to boost your confidence.” That was one of the most important days of my college experiences, she made me realize that I have so many dreams and goals I want to accomplish, I do not want a small obstacle to interfere with my goal to one day help foster children and homeless people. That small conversation was just another opened door to further expand my future. I learned that there are plenty of people willing to help other out. I learned that I am not alone.

Educational Equity

I plan to eventually go back to my community after college and propose and promote a bill that guarantees individualized counseling to all troubled students to help them stay on track with their education. In The New York Times article “Zero Tolerance, Reconsidered,” the editorial board states, “nearly 6 in 10 schools’ students were suspended or expelled at least once between seventh and 12th grade … Children who are removed from school are at a heightened risk for low achievement, being held back, and dropping out.” This is a problem because students who drop out of school are more likely to struggle financially, and receive less opportunities in life. The majority of suspended students come back with the same behavior they left school with because they did not receive assistance to solve their psychological and emotional problems. Students who receive counseling have a higher probability to behave appropriately in ways that help them to achieve; an improvement they would likely not make without professional help.

Ultimately, an education from UC Davis will allow me to go back to my community and become a social entrepreneur. I am committed to the social responsibility of providing disadvantaged students with quality education based in supportive communities. I will create teams of social advocates skilled at elevating the perceived value of education within these communities and, as more students graduate from formerly troubled communities, momentum will build for the repair of other societal problems. People fought for me to have the opportunity to attend a university, and now it is my turn to fight for the next generation who will grow up in my neighborhood.

New experiences

I’m nearing the end of my first semester at San Francisco State University and so far its been amazing. I’ve met new people, learned new things about myself and made new memories.

My first semester has been great but the only thing holding me back has been my financial situation. Going into college I thought my classes would be very difficult, professors would be unbearable, and that I’d be spending most of my time studying, but in reality I had a lot of free time between classes to do work or anything else, my classes were interesting and engaging, and my professors were understanding and fair. My biggest challenge this semester was juggling school and work.

I started my job in the summer so I could have some money going into my first semester at SFSU, and it was easy at first. I would get up at 6am and get out at 2pm and have the rest of the day to do whatever, when I started the semester I decided to do less hours so I could focus more on my academics. After about three weeks I started to notice that I wasn’t making enough money to pay my bills so I had to go back to working full time. I was going to class as soon as I got off work, luckily it wasn’t too far from school. I would be exhausted as soon as I got to class, barely being able to stay awake during class.

I felt like I missed out on a lot of organizations/events in school because of my job. I wanted to join a sorority and do an internship but do to my schedule, I was unable to do so.

This spring semester is going to be different. My main focus will be school and work will come second. I think the most important thing I’ve learned this semester was that I still need the help of my parents. I made the mistake of putting a job ahead of my education and I will never make that mistake again.

First Semester at BCC

During my senior year of high school, I applied to four-year universities, and I got accepted to some, but I still decided to go to a community college first to explore what I truly want to do in the future, and save money at the same time. In high school, there were students saying negative things about community college, and I also doubted whether I made the right decision or not. But it turned out to be way better than I expected. Many of the school faculties at Berkeley City College were transfer students at UC Berkeley, and I could ask them questions on transfer admissions. There are also students who decided to attend a two-year college, even though they got accepted to other four-year universities, like Cal and UC Davis. My first semester completely changed my perspective on community college, and I have met so many amazing people who gave me advice on life and on college.

I am currently a student ambassador who helps students solve their problems, and I also conduct college tours and do outreach events in high schools. I am also one of the financial aid assistants who helps students with their FAFSA and answer questions about their financial aid.

Even though I’m doing great at Berkeley City College, I still decided to take a gap year to recharge myself and at the same have more time to explore myself as well as finish things that I haven’t had a chance to do when I was in high school. There is a lot of things I want to accomplish in one year, but the one major thing that I want to do is become a self-expert. It may sounds foolish, but what I meant by that is I want to know more about myself, so I will be able to know what I want in my life. I don’t want to lead myself to an unhappy life, so this is why I want to find my direction in life. However, I do know that I want to become an entrepreneur and a philanthropist in the future. Before that, I believe the only way to help and inspire other people is to help yourself first. If you do not know your inner self, and your potential, then you would not be able to influence other people’s lives for the better. Therefore, I believe that taking a gap year will definitely help me know better about myself, and find my direction in life. This way I will be able to do my best, when I’m back to college.

“Put in the extra hard work”

My major is Video Game Animation and Development, so I mostly learn concept art in the video game aspect. I always used to draw anime and other art in high school all the time. I was actually pretty good. But in my Video Game Development class, I always have a hard time connecting traditional drawing ( real life sketching ) to digital drawing. So everyday I stay in the class for 2-6 extra hours a day whenever I have the class again. Why? Because I realized this type of work is something I want to do for the rest of my life, so if I want to try to be the best or actually get the job I truly want, I have to work hard at it and give it 120%. So on my free time I watch tutorials on digital drawing looking for ways to improve my drawing to be more appealing. To be honest, it’s easy and hard. It’s easy to put in the time because I enjoy doing it and time fly past by so fast, but it’s hard because you have to realize that there people better than you. So the best advice I can give you about any thing your passionate about is, to not worry about anyone skills or work, worry about your own work, use other artist and people work to improve yours, but don’t doubt yourself or underestimate your skills to get things done. So “try your best, think your best, be your best”.

Unexpectedly Meeting Friends

After moving into the dorms and realizing that I didn’t know anyone on campus, it was scary at first. I am usually a very outgoing person, but for some reason I felt shy. After a couple of ice breakers during Weekend of Welcome ( WOW), I started to open up and get back to my regular self. After a few day of actives and social events on campus, I started to wonder who my new group of friends would be on campus. I had met people through my WOW group, but I honestly did not connect with anyone and started to feel like I did not fit in on campus.

So, I started to think about what my friends and family told me before I left for school. “Nanette trust me you will that you find your close college friends during the most unexpected times. At first I didn’t believe them until I met my friend Nicole in the dining hall while trying to make my way to the exit. That afternoon the dining hall was packed with freshmen trying to find their WOW groups to eat with. Due to the big crowds I found myself waiting in line just to exit dining hall. While waiting, I started making small talk with people around me and met Nicole. After discussing how nervous and excited, we were to meet new people. We exchanged information and decided to hang out later.

Later on that day I ended up knocking on Nicole’s door and I met her and her roommate,Nina. We ended up taking a hike to the cross at my school with a few other people. As time went on the three of us have become close friends.

Now looking back on it, I finally understand what people mean by college forces you to get out of your comfort zone. In just the first few months, I have come in contact with people who come from different walks of life, that have challenged my views on life for the better. I feel like I would not have gotten this opportunity anywhere else, but college.

An Uneasy Start

A well-planned schedule will allow a student’s semester go smoothly and accomplishing everything needed on time. However, this did not happen to me at the beginning of my first semester at UC Berkeley.
There were two phases for Cal students to sign up for classes, Telebears Phase 1 and Phase 2, and the first phase for freshman happened during new student orientation, CalSO. Before the student orientation, there were assignments for students to research for classes that satisfy requirements for their intended majors, individual colleges, and the university, and make up a list of classes they want to take. I felt excited at first, feeling that I was finally entering college with a diversity of classes to choose from. After a long research, I chose Theater R1A (Reading and Composition course that is required by the College of Letter and Science), Math 10A, Chem 1A/1AL, Psych 2, and a seminar. As an ignorant freshman, I signed up for my chemistry and math class during phase 1 without considering the class size limitation for other smaller classes, making any back-up plans, and doing enough research on classes, which then led to a total disaster at the beginning of the new semester.
The reading and composition course that I signed up for was already full because there were only 17 spots in the class. I also dropped Psych 2 for I found out that it would not fulfill the requirements for any upper-division psychology courses, which I was interested in. I dropped out the seminar once I found out that there were prerequisites for the class. Without these classes, I became a part-time student.
I felt panic and anxious. I went over the course searcher over and over again looking for courses that would satisfy any of the college or major requirements. In such a big school as UC Berkeley, it was almost impossible for one to find desired classes once the semester started because almost all classes were already full, leaving the less interesting and demanding courses the only ones open. I tried out different classes, modifying my schedule repeatedly, and finally got enrolled in an American Culture course (satisfied University requirement) that I was originally on the waitlist.
My schedule was finally complete, and I learned an important lesson in the hard way: it is essential to sign up for classes with less spots, make back-up plans, and have complete understanding on classes you are choosing. Now, it is already time to sign up for classes for next semester, and I have applied these techniques to class enrollments. I hope it will work out fine this time.

First “Real” College Experience after STEP

My first “real” university experience was the first day after Welcome Week, a week that everyone has to just welcome in the new freshmen. I went to go see my professor for a homework assignment that he gave us, which was to turn in a survey that he handed to us by coming to his office hours. Now, at this point I can honestly say the academically I felt somewhat prepared, however socially I felt I had no preparation for college life. I went with a friend who had already turned in her survey and I walked up to his desk and handed him the paper. Then, we just made eye contact and kept it for about 30 seconds before he asked “Do you have any questions?” I stood with a blank face and simply said “No” and walked out. I was able to go back and clear things up when I worked up enough courage to do so. This was a great college experience, helped me actually start talking to my professors, and is also a good story I get to tell my friends and people who just have questions about talking to their professors alike.
I say that this was my first “real” college experience because over the summer, before the fall quarter started, I attended the STEP (Special Transitional Enrichment Program) at UC Davis, which gave me preparation for the fall quarter. I was able to take classes, math, English and a University Expectations Class, this really prepared me for the workload that I would have in an average quarter. All the classes also helped me remember things that I had forgotten during the summer before I went to STEP. I also had a chance to go to workshops and seminars, in which learned about the many programs that UC Davis offer to its students. I think it has really helped me now that I’m in the 5th week of the fall quarter. I look back and realized that everything, including information and programs that I thought I would never use while at Davis, that I learned at STEP has greatly impacted my experience at college in a positive way.

First Quarter

These first few weeks at Cal Poly Pomona have been fun, enlightening, and hard. I am currently taking general education classes and classes that have to do with my major, which is Urban and Regional Planning. It is so exciting and refreshing to take classes that are teaching me about the career I hope to go into one day soon. I have found that in some classes you have to put a lot of effort into studying and teaching yourself the material so that you can succeed in the class. To learn the material, I knew I had to attend my professor’s office hours. When I found out that as a student I had to make the first move and seek help from the professor during their office hours, I was so nervous. I was scared they would turn me away or they would think that I was not smart because I did not understand. In contrast, my professor was actually easy to talk to, he even stayed longer than his scheduled time to explain the material to me. I now find myself going to all of my professors’ office hours to get feedback on an assignment or just to gain some clarity on what we may have talked about in class. I have found that some professors take the time to really teach the material to the student, as well as reveal practical skills, resources on campus, and simply share tips on how to be a successful college student.

Cal Poly Pomona has so much to offer students academically and socially. This school has a club for almost every interest a student may have. I have already joined the American Planning Student Association which is connected to my major, Shades of Queen is a club dedicated to the uplift and empowerment of women of color, and Black Student Union is based upon Black excellence academically, socially and mentally. These clubs have enabled me to meet so many amazing people that are ready to succeed and are willing to help others do the same.
College is helping me grow as an individual, as well as teaching me how to be independent.

Accepting My Decision

Attending Contra Costa College wasn’t easy for me. There was a lot of reasons why I didn’t want to go to a community college. I didn’t want to attend CCC because of other people negative opinions, stereotypes of CC and for some reason I felt that it was going to be like High School. I made my choice to attend CCC and it has been the best decision in my life by far. It was my first day at the campus, the counselor was very nice and it was really easy to register for the fall semester. Currently I’m registered in 16 units, a lot of people told me I was out of my mind. I really believed that CCC class load/ homework was going to be easier but it’s actually very challenging. I was a little bit over my mind but a challenge hasn’t stopped me yet and it won’t. Right now I’m realizing what I’m really made out of; the skills I have learned are put to use and I’m growing as a student. It’s only the beginning but I feel that I have learned so much in so little time.

At the beginning of the semester I did have a lot in my mind, “Am I going to be able to do this? Should I just drop a class? Why did I come here?” I had so much anxiety about my decision of attending a two year, matter in fact just college in general. I got over it and sucked it up, so far I have really enjoyed CCC and it’s a very diverse and an interesting campus. My professors are really helpful and make class very enjoyable. There is so many resources on campus it’s awesome. Currently I do work part time at San Pablo Community Center, to me work is an outlet I’m able to distract myself and I enjoy it a lot. Work has definitely help me balance myself and not make me feel super overwhelmed, I call it a positive distraction.

As of today, the only thing I regret is letting people get into my mind about my plans for the future. I really want to break the stereotype of CC and it’s nothing like High School! I do not regret my decision of attending a two year at all. I have accepted my plan and looking forward to pursue higher education and eventually transferring to a four year. The major thing I have learned is to not be afraid to do my own thing, trust my gut and keeping an openly positive mind is SUPER important. I’m looking forward to finishing my first semester strong and continue to grow at Contra Costa College.

Thank you Ed Fund for your support!