Student gains 'sense of passion and pride' in education

June 2, 2011 at 1:02 a.m.

The Victoria Advocate will be publishing student essays from Victoria College's "What's Your Story?" scholarship competition during the next few weeks. Students were asked to write an essay answering the question, "How has Victoria College changed your life?" Winners of the contest, received a $1,000 scholarship funded by the Victoria College Foundation. We welcome letters and columns from all students.

Graduating high school entails various expectations for different people. Fortunate ones immediately move on to a four-year university; some go straight to working a full-time job; others start a family; and some - like me - are completely directionless.

After my senior year in 2008, I picked up a dead-end waitressing job. A year later, dissatisfied with my surroundings and lack of ambition, I decided it was time to figure out my path; I enrolled at Victoria College, and since then, my life has completely turned around.

Becoming a student and student worker at VC has given me the inspiration I need to succeed by consistently providing me with a support system, guidance and belief in my ever-expanding aspirations, and a confident self-concept.

From my first day at VC, I expected a support system that has been readily available for me in several forms. The administration staff, counselors and financial aid office put me on track for my next four semesters in just a couple visits to their offices.

Furthermore, a handful of my teachers have pushed me to excel and made me aware that I could succeed in the fields of my study, English, Professional Writing and Fine Arts. In particular, Shreepad Joglekar, a Fine Arts professor, has opened many doors for me in photography that I did not know existed. Thanks to him, I have a newfound passion that I will continue to develop and use to gain satisfaction, and hopefully, fame.

Also, visiting the Reading and Writing Center to get help with essays affirmed to me that I had the skills to make writing a profession. One of the lead tutors there, Elgene Henry, read one of my research papers and pushed me to get a job there because of my talent. Now, I challenge myself by teaching others how to be successful readers and writers. Without the help of VC faculty and staff, I would not be leading the fulfilling life I am now.

Moreover, the guidance given to me from teachers and peers has pushed me to believe that I can achieve my greatest aspirations. Before coming to VC, I knew some day I would get a degree, but I found no purpose or desire within myself to delve into getting an extended education. Doing well at VC pushes me to believe I can convert my studies into real-life accomplishments. Now, I want to be a teacher, a writer, an artist (particularly a photographer) and a lawyer. The effort I put into my education is being rewarded with high semester grades, especially in English and art courses, which gives me hope for my future.

In addition, my involvement with the VC Student Art Association and Writer's Club has given me positive reinforcement from other students with goals similar to mine. With the Art Association, I have gained valuable skills in setting up and putting on gallery shows, screen-printing, professionally photographing events and critiquing others' work. Furthermore, with the Writer's Club, I have been exposed to reading my own writings, along with hearing and critiquing others', as well. All of this deliberation, with peers who have knowledge in fields similar to mine, stimulates my talents and desires. Attending community college at VC has made me realize there is no limit to what I can do or learn.

Lastly, and most importantly, my attendance at Victoria College has inspired many affirmative and constructive changes in my self-perception. After high school and a year of living without purpose, I began to feel worthless; I was a disappointment to my family and myself.

The stress and frustration from working all day for meager tips as a waitress made me feel even worse. I saved all the money I could - which was not much - and went to VC to talk to administration about registering and paying for classes.

Because it is a small community college, the payments were not impossible for me to make, and I was able to set up a payment plan to pay my tuition in segments. Within a few weeks, I was on the path to fulfilling my goals and began to feel a sense of self-worth.

After making Dean's list my first semester, my family praised me; I had gained back their respect by showing them my efforts. The respect and positive reinforcement given to me by my teachers, peers and family, solely because of my attendance at VC, has made me feel like an admirable person who has only began to experience success.

Starting at VC is the sole reason I know I can "go far." Although I do not regret taking a year off after high school because saving my waitressing money allowed me to pay for college, I had no direction and was not making any positive impact on my future at a time when I should have been.

Little did I know that registering at VC included gaining an awesome support system, persistent guidance and belief in my aspirations, and a new self-concept, all of which were necessary for starting and directing the course of my life-path.

I will not only take an associate degree to the university when I transfer, but thanks to the members of the community which is Victoria College, I will be taking a positive, knowledgeable mind-set: the belief that I can do anything I set my mind to, and a sense of passion and pride in my education.

Kristin Lopez was one of several Victoria College students who participated in the "What's Your Story" essay contest.



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