Counseling Faculty (EOPS)
"Even though the journey gets hard, remember what you’re doing it for. You’re doing it for yourself. You’re doing it for those that paved the way for you. When you attain your goal, it’s going to be so fulfilling because of the sacrifice you made. Keep going, the sacrifice is worth it."
Childhood in Monterey County
I grew up in a small town in Monterey County where most of the community is of Latinx culture. It’s a town of immigrants and agricultural workers and both of my parents worked in agriculture.
My parents preached about the importance of an education. They didn’t know what that entailed and couldn’t support my siblings and I with the technical aspects of an education, but they consistently told us they came to the United States for a better opportunity and for their children to earn a college education.
Even though I didn’t fully understand what that meant, I felt a sense of obligation to earn a college degree.
First Time in College
I attended Hartnell College after high school because it’s the “thing to do” in America and to try to fulfill my obligation. Once I got to college, I was placed in developmental classes. This was a shock to me after having been in AP courses in high school. I also didn’t take college very seriously. I only passed four of the eight classes I took in my first academic year.
In my developmental English class, my instructor, who was of Latinx descent, accused me of plagiarism. The assignment was to summarize a writing piece, so I thought I was doing the assignment properly. She had me called in front of the dean to discuss my case, without even speaking to me first. The dean realized it was not intentional plagiarism, rather that I didn’t have the ability. It was a shocking way to start my college journey.
While attending Hartnell, my sister graduated from UC Davis. She participated in a Chicana/Chicano commencement ceremony. I saw how proud my parents were of her. I was proud of her too. Attending my sister’s commencement ceremony let me know that if she could graduate from college, so could I.
CSUMB and Finding My Passion
I only met with a counselor twice while I attended Hartnell. Once at the beginning and once at the end to confirm I wasn’t going to lose my admission to the CSUs. I decided to attend CSU Monterey Bay (CSUMB) for financial reasons. I felt imposter syndrome when I first arrived. However, after a few months of experience and seeing my exam scores and how I was performing, I realized I belonged at CSUMB.
At CSUMB I studied psychology and realized I wanted to work with people one-on-with also having the option being an instructor. I was looking for a career where I could teach and help individuals. I found community college counseling and realized I needed a master’s degree. Prior to that I had only intended on earning a bachelor’s degree.
Transferring to UC Riverside
I began working with a program called Gear Up and my colleagues were attending the Educational Counseling program at SJSU. They encouraged me to apply and it fit all my career and academic needs. Through the program I networked and got an internship at Gavilan College. After completing the internship, I was hired as a part-time counselor at Gavilan. I worked there for one year and through my network again, I was referred to a position at Mission College, and the rest is history.
Contrary to my work now, I wasn’t a very engaged student at any point in my educational career. I did play a few sports in high school, but I didn’t attend any extracurricular activities. At community college and CSUMB, I went to school, went to work, and then went home. In retrospect, I wish I had attended more cultural activities and equity themed events. I wish I had attended events for the Latinx community, and those that helped me learn more about other cultures as well.
My advice to students – try to attend campus events,but attend those that speak to your passions and interests. Also identify staff and faculty across campus that can and want to help. Be bold enough to ask for the help you need. I can truly say, in my life, when I’ve asked for help, people got excited and wanted to help.
Furthermore, I wasn’t the type of student who got involved in class either. I wish I had built stronger relationships with instructors I connected with. I didn’t realize I would need letters of recommendation in the future. So, when I did need them, I didn’t have any instructors to ask. I encourage you to make those connections – people are willing to help.
Lastly, each of you is on your own individual journey. And with that, you have your own individual challenges and may even doubt if going to college is worth the time, energy, sacrifice, and balancing the other responsibilities you have (I know I did). No one sees the sacrifice, but they will see the results. Even though the journey gets hard, remember what you’re doing it for. You’re doing it for yourself. You’re doing it for those that paved the way for you. When you attain your goal, it’s going to be so fulfilling because of the sacrifice you made. Keep going, the sacrifice is worth it.