#CYProud: Dominique Brown, Dance

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

Dominique Brown
Cypress + Grand Canyon University

Brown is a dance major transferring to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona following her graduation from Cypress College. She decided to attend Cypress College after taking a dance class the summer before she was heading to a four-year college. She aspires to receive her master’s degrees in dance and business, and start an international dance company.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born in Jamaica, but raised in Orange County, and I have lived in various cities within Orange County. My favorite residence was in Placentia, mostly because of the pond in the courtyard of the complex. I still remember the joy I had watching the ducks swim from my veranda.

As for my hobbies and interests, I love dancing and creating dance videos. (I also enjoy drawing and eating.) My interest in dancing began the moment I set foot onto American soil in California. I fell in love with the dances I would see in music videos and movies. I enjoyed it so much that I began to mimic the movements I saw, which led to my selection of Poppin’ as my style of origin.

From the top of my head, I would say that the movie Bring it On was the first movie I was crazy for. The Clovers, one of the cheer teams featured in the movie, subconsciously inspired my passion for dance and athletics. Five years later, my passion for krump was inspired by the documentary, RIZE. There are times I regret not continuing to study the movements and history of krump.

Sixth grade was when I became more confident in dancing in front of others, but throughout elementary and junior high my life goal was purely about becoming a professional basketball player in EuroLeague Women. I ate, breathed, and slept basketball, and in between I was involved in other activities like double dutch. Fast forward to the end of my junior year of high school, my life plan took an abrupt detour when I began to hate the sport of basketball, mainly due to my surroundings while I was on the school’s basketball team. I couldn’t even watch March Madness that year and for the next three years. I was not able to write a truthful paper for my “American Dream” assignment because basketball was no longer a part of it. During my senior year, I was an empty vessel on the basketball court. The only things that kept me alive and sane were God and dance.

I am grateful for those who were positive influences in my life and helped me to realize my new plan: becoming an entrepreneur.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I was on the verge of going to a four-year college straight out of high school, but I was invited, along with two schoolmates, to perform a dance at Cypress College’s Triple Threat Showcase. The week before we had also been invited to watch the People in Motion dance concert and I was enthralled by the production level. But what I found more enlightening was my decision to never do a solo on the campus theater stage ever again. At first glance, I thought, “Maybe I should try using the whole stage to make my dance more dynamic.” I was wrong, and I regret it to this day. I was so winded that I almost tripped going up the stairs to get water.

Other than that, experiencing the stage and witnessing other great performances was really great. Even though I was excited, I was still planning to attend the four-year college in the fall after I took one class during the summer at Cypress. Fortunately, that class—multicultural dance—is what made me stay at Cypress. It made me desire to pursue dance as a major along with business.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I have participated in two of the dance concerts at Cypress College, one last spring semester and the other this spring semester. For one semester during the 2015-2016 school year, I was a member of the Black Student Union. I was also a member of the Cypress College women’s basketball team this past season (2016-2017). I no longer hate basketball. I have made great friends and acquaintances over the past three years who are reliable. The network I’ve built with them will forever be remembered.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am most passionate about dance, music, movies, video games, and anything Dragon Ball-related. At times, I feel as if I’m having a heart attack when I am really immersed in any of the things mentioned above. People who witness me in my trance may also see me spazzing out with excitement for an amazing dance move, piano run, or an unexpected plot twist. An example is when I watch Dragon Ball Super, I am practically screaming, jumping, pacing, and extremely animated throughout the entire episode.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

The faculty that have helped me get where I am today are dance professors: Erin Landry, Maha Afra, and Katiana Pallais. Honestly, I would say all the dance professors at Cypress have positively affected my life in one way or another. Another professor I am grateful for is Thomas “TJ” Reynolds. I had him for an English class during the 2017 spring semester. What each of these professors have in common is that they will invest their time into their students. They also encourage students to invest their time and efforts into the desire to learn more.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

I will be transferring to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona to continue my dance major. I will also be furthering my business studies, so I can double major in dance and business. After I receive my bachelor’s degree from GCU, I plan to continue my studies as a graduate student.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My main long-term goals are to get my M.F.A. in dance and M.B.A. in business, then form an international dance company. The mission of the company will be to provide a platform to advocate for people who feel their voices are not heard.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my heritage. Maybe it is because I came to the U.S. at a young age, but my Jamaican pride is a major part of who I am. The values and morals that were instilled in me have been my foundation and remain strong.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

I would say to have fun, be responsible, and be ready to sacrifice some fun to get outstanding grades. Cypress College is a great school. It has really prepared me for a four-year college. If I went straight from high school to a four-year, I would have probably struggled mentally and financially. During my time at Cypress, I made the Library and Learning Resource Center my friend. Forming study groups also helped me to succeed in my classes.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

CYPCITY!? ………………… LET’S GO!!! Thank you for helping me mature! ♥

Posted in CY

#CYProud: Monica Vargas, Psych Tech & Dance

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate’s degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

Monica Vargas
Cypress + Psych Tech

Vargas received her associate degree in psychiatric technology and dance and will continue her studies at Cypress College in the Registered Nursing program to prepare for an eventual master’s degree in psychiatric nursing. She strives to spread awareness about mental illness and the human condition, and enjoys spending time volunteering.

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Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born in Los Alamitos, California and attended Los Alamitos High School. I was always active; I did taekwondo as a kid, then in high school I joined a club soccer team. I always took honors and AP courses while maintaining a good GPA. I was always interested in psychology and the human mind, and I also love to dance and often perform in different venues.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

Cypress College offers a convenient location as it is close to both my home and work. Additionally, it offers a great education and value for my money, as well as many services and licensure programs that are not offered at other locations. It has helped open many pathways to brighten my future.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I began my studies at Cypress College believing that I would only be a psychology major; however, after taking a few dance classes, I discovered a second passion and chose to pursue it as a second major. Similarly, I happened upon the Psychiatric Technician Program, which opened many more paths in my future career goals.

I will receive associate degrees in both psychology and dance, as well as my psychiatric technology license, which will help me to attain future personal, academic, and career goals.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am passionate about spreading awareness about both mental health and diversity in each individual. Being able to be part of a psychiatric program, I was able to visit many mental hospitals and developmental institutions. This not only allowed me to learn more about mental illnesses, but also become aware of the stigma and labeling that exist for these people.

My passion is to spread awareness about not only the mentally ill, but all people. I hope to help educate people to remove stigmas and labels of others. I am also passionate about helping people as much as I can. I have volunteered my time at the Boys and Girls Club teaching dance to kids who were not expected to be able to dance. I also volunteered training individuals who had health impairments and could not afford a fitness coach. I am always looking for ways in my community to help out in any way I can.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

The faculty at Cypress is usually very helpful; however, three professors went above and beyond to help me and everyone around them.

Professor Maha Afra pushed and motivated me to pursue my goals, and has been there every step of the way to help me achieve them. She is always very well-informed and became my mentor. Additionally, she kept her office doors open to all of us in a welcoming environment with lots of pillows where we would go when life was overwhelming. She also reminded us of our self worth and continued to motivate us to achieve.

Professor Christina Johannsen is another faculty member who always made time to listen to all her students and really tried to help us succeed. She was very caring and helped everyone who needed it. She helped me see that anyone can become anything they set their minds to, and I knew that I could always rely on her vast knowledge and her keen way with words.

Finally, Professor Jaime Ramos helped me figure out my career plan and motivated me to pursue it. He always answered my career questions honestly and was always very genuine. He helped me establish career goals and ways to achieve them.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

I plan to stay at Cypress and enter the Registered Nursing Program. After transferring from Cypress College, I plan to attend Cal State Long Beach and enter their Psychiatric Nursing Program in order to receive a master’s degree and become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I hope to one day become a college professor and share my acquired knowledge the way Professors Afra, Johannsen, and Ramos did for me and motivate other students to move forward with their goals.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

I aspire to become a college professor, as well as open a dance therapy studio. I am a dancer for Maha and Company, Professor Afra’s dance company, and I aspire to continue dancing in this company that helps spread cultural awareness through movement.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of being able to take 18 units, be part of a dance company, and have a job all
while paying for my education. I won an award for being one of only three students to maintain straight A’s throughout the Psychiatric Technician Program and my other courses. It was not easy, and I had many sleepless weeks, but it was worth every bit of effort.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Take advantage of everything Cypress College has to offer, from financial help, to all the licensure programs available. Oftentimes, community colleges have a bad stigma; however, it is definitely the smart route as they offer more help both financially and educationally.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I wish the best of luck to everyone. Hard work and dedication always pay off. I wouldn’t have been so successful without the dedicated faculty and staff at Cypress College, and I am very grateful. Furthermore, I would like to thank everyone who I have had the pleasure of meeting at Cypress as they all played a role in helping me achieve some of my goals.

Posted in CY

#CYProud: Miguel Ruiz, Biochemistry

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

Miguel Ruiz
Cypress + UCSD

Ruiz is a biochemistry major transferring to the University of California, San Diego following his graduation from Cypress College. While at the college, he’s been involved in a number of clubs and programs, including serving as interim president for the Chemistry Club and cofounding the Cypress College Chapter for the Society of Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. He aspires to enter an M.D.-Ph.D. program and ultimately become a molecular pathologist researching disease.

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Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

Growing up, my family didn’t have the luxury of being fully engaged in my life. I was a latch-key kid, and I was responsible for taking care of my mother and contributing to our household by working since the age of 16. In the face of hard times and financial uncertainty, I elected to derive motivation from my situation and pursue science for its impartiality and objectivity. My mother was a nurse, and her commitment to the care and advancement of others has inspired my desire to pursue biochemistry; it is my medium of choice to follow my mother’s paradigm. It has been up to me to give my life meaning and clear the path toward higher education. Since entering community college, my goal has been to continually challenge myself through more rigorous class schedules each year. At times, I have even taken particularly large class loads exceeding three or four science courses at a time. My goal in taking these rigorous class schedules has been to train myself to adapt to high-stress workloads and improve my discipline and work ethic.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

After my exit from high school, I had no idea where to begin my path toward higher education. I wish I could say that my research of the graduation rate, or the retention rate of Cypress College, was what attracted me initially to the college, but in reality, it was the people; some of the best, hardworking, and most responsible people I knew went to Cypress College.

What has been most remarkable is what’s kept me at Cypress College: community. In high school, I never had an academic identity. I felt like an outside observer whenever I tried to engage in science previously. At Cypress College, I found the (STEM)2 program where I was given the opportunity to become immersed in a community with similar passionate and ambitious individuals who made me feel as though I had developed a niche in the sciences. Then, unbeknownst to me, science became my life. Every person I knew, every person that I called friend, was a science major. My mentors and people I idolized were professors and scientists.

Cypress College essentially provided the fundamental environment to facilitate my growth as a scientist when I had no other resources. The experience I had at Cypress College shows that given the proper environment and community, an individual can be positioned to achieve.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

After all the experiences and knowledge I cultivated at Cypress College, I believed it was my duty and certainly an honor to give back to the community that essentially made me. I worked with other Latino students to co-found the Cypress College Chapter for the Society of Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, a club which strives to conduct on- and off-campus science-related activities to promote science in Latino communities. Cypress College also gave me the opportunity to be a part of a club for the first time and serve in a position of leadership. I was a member of the Cypress College Chemistry Club where I served as treasurer and later as interim president.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

In a sense, my major is my absolute passion. But I also believe my greatest passion in general is to understand that which I do not know compounded with a profound desire to improve the human condition. My thirst for knowledge is everything to me, and I believe I manifest my passion through my studies in biochemistry. As a biochemistry major, I’ve been given the opportunity to explore the universe at a molecular level, while applying what I’ve learned toward a greater cause: to ultimately research and produce innovations that I hope will have a significant impact on humanity.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

Without the faculty and staff at Cypress College, I would have lacked the inspiration and plethora of knowledge necessary to succeed and overcome. All of my professors at Cypress contributed to my development as a student, but there were some that went above and beyond their role as educators—they became my mentors.

Professor Adel Rajab was my first biology professor in college. Professor Rajab’s BIO 174 was a daunting course, but he was an inspiration. He holds his students to a high standard and motivated us to achieve a deep knowledge of the material.

Professor Torri Draganov gave me the best experience I could have ever hoped for in a chemistry class. Professor Draganov was patient and effusive, and gave me the tools I needed to succeed in chemistry. When I knew nothing about higher education beyond community college, Professor Draganov offered me guidance in structuring my journey through higher education.

I met Professor Alex Mintzer when I began taking rigorous course schedules. Although the material that we learned was heavy, Professor Mintzer was always available to clarify the material for his students or simply be there for his students to talk to.

Yanet Garcia and the STEM faculty were hugely impactful on my growth at Cypress College. Yanet was more than a counselor to me; she pushed me every step of the way to go out and look for the opportunities I needed to succeed and thrive.

Professor Robin De Roo was my organic chemistry professor during my most intense semesters at the college. She was key in helping me keep my sanity during the most challenging of times. Professor De Roo understood my background as a first-generation student who was still learning self discipline. She offered me advice, guidance, and life lessons with an open door, and has impacted me in a way I can never forget.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

This summer, I plan to recertify as a phlebotomist so that I may work in a hospital in close contact with patients and caregivers to better understand my potential role in the medical field. Furthermore, this fall I will be transferring to the University of California, San Diego as a biochemistry and cell biology major. To further elucidate my potential in research, my goal is to pursue research at UCSD in pharmacology, biotechnology, and molecular pathology.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

Undergraduate transfer has been one of my first steps in a series of goals. My next step is to graduate from UCSD in two years as a biochemistry and cell biology major with a minor in chemistry and an emphasis in molecular biology. Subsequent to my graduation, my hope is to take the MCAT and obtain a high enough score to achieve my ultimate goal which is to apply and be accepted to an M.D.-Ph.D. program at the University of California, San Francisco. Currently, my life goal is to conduct research in disease as a molecular pathologist.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of who I am now and what I feel I represent. I am proud to be my mother’s son. I am proud to be the son of an immigrant. I am proud to be the first science major in my family. I am proud to represent an underrepresented minority.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Learn how to deal with failure. Failure is inevitable; it will happen. What I think truly defines a person’s character is how they react in the face of utter failure. Life is not about the failure, it’s about the readjustment, the adaptation. Countless times, with people of various backgrounds, I’ve observed that oftentimes failure, or fear of failure, has been the major driver in causing us to lose sight of our goals, get bogged down, and ultimately become intimidated of who we are meant to be. It is my belief that learning to pick yourself up after failure and continuing to pursue what you love is the ability to succeed in anything you desire.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would like to extend my gratitude to all the faculty and staff at Cypress College. I don’t know what I would have done without this place.

Posted in CY

#CYProud: Junnior Rodriguez, Automotive Engineering

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

Junnior Rodriguez
Cypress + Cal Poly SLO

Rodriguez is an Auto Tech, Physics, and Math major transferring to the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo following his graduation from Cypress College. He grew up with a strong passion for automotive technology and engineering, and entered Cypress College as a first-generation college student. He initially went through the College’s Toyota T-TEN program, then pursued his associate degree in physics and math for transfer into mechanical engineering.

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Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born and raised in Orange County, California. As a child, my favorite toys were Lego and plastic car model kits. I loved the challenge and joy that I experienced while using my imagination to build anything my mind could think of. I spent days, even weeks, creating and building my ideas with these toys. As I got older, my interests and abilities evolved, and so did my toys and hobbies. They went from 1/25-scale model cars to actual production vehicles. Simply out of curiosity, I disassembled my entire car to study how it was made and how it operates. A revelation from this obsession resulted in knowing how things work and how I can improve them. This is when I knew I wanted to become an automotive engineer. From my humble beginnings in this journey toward higher education, Cypress College has enabled me to progress from becoming an automotive technician to evolving toward a mechanical engineer.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

During high school, my dream job was to become an automotive technician. I applied at my local Toyota Dealership, only to be turned down as I didn’t have any work experience. This inspired me to further my education and attend a trade school. It all started with a simple Google search of local schools in my area. Once I saw the T-TEN, Toyota’s Technician Training & Education Network, automotive technician training program at Cypress College, it was love at first sight. Looking through Google images, the state-of-the art and hands-on education alongside the greenest grass I have seen on this beautiful Southern California campus, made the decision to attend Cypress College an easy one. Two weeks after graduating high school, I became a Cypress Charger!

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I initially started attending Cypress College for its Automotive T-TEN Program. Automotive Performance and Drivability Instructor, Michael Klyde, notified me about an internship opportunity with the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association. At first, I thought to myself that there would be no way I could land this opportunity as I was intimidated, afraid, and had never done anything like it before, but I applied for and received top honors in this highly competitive opportunity available to all trade school students in Southern California. From this experience, I saw firsthand that the more we do outside the classroom, the more fulfilling our experiences are inside the classroom. I was more motivated in my classes as I realized that what we are learning, we’ll be using later in our careers. What we study from textbooks isn’t enough, but once you start applying what you have read, that’s the true value of an education. As a result, I wanted to do more and get involved as I saw valuable opportunities the more we apply ourselves. My hunger for learning and finding more about myself led me to get more involved on campus.

By being an active participant and giving myself an opportunity to put myself out there, I saw and felt the community in this community college. I’ve been the secretary of the Automotive Club; member and vice president of the Engineering & Physics Club; member and engineering ambassador for the STEM Club; STEM Study Lounge leader; founder of the study group Physics Friday; and I’m a member of the (STEM)2 Program. Also, with the help of friends, we founded and I was honored to be the president of the Leaders of Tomorrow Club.

I’ve also worked on campus as the Calculus II Supplemental Instruction Leader for Professor Nusbaum’s Math 150B course tutoring in the LRC’s the Math Learning Center, and as a Peer Mentor for the (STEM)2 Program. In my various roles on campus, I’ve turned myself into the student I always knew I could be. By believing in myself and knowing that I am destined for greatness, I’m starting to get more out of life while helping others along the way. My broad background gives me an advantage with various transferrable skills, a flexible mindset, and technical, hands-on experience that will engineer my success wherever I go.

Every opportunity that I’ve received happened because I applied myself and networked, both of which are vital skills I obtained from the (STEM)2 Program. Thanks to this program, I’ve been able to conduct undergraduate research at Cal State Fullerton in mechanical engineering. This experience confirmed to me that what I am studying in school is what I want to do as my career.

When I first started coming back to school and decided that I wanted to become an engineer, I honestly didn’t know what an engineer was or what they do. If it weren’t for my personal mentor, Alan Jaquias (a Cypress College alumnus), and the guest speakers I’ve heard from and workshops I’ve attended here at Cypress College, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I consider internships and summer research opportunities as “test drives” in your intended major. As you should never buy a car without first test driving it, so you should treat majoring the same way. You shouldn’t invest four years of your life studying something and realize you have no passion or “feel” for it because you never experienced it firsthand. So get out there, test drive your major, and get involved! All the effort will pay in great dividends toward your success.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I can’t stop thinking about cars, technology, engines, and building what my mind envisions. It has transcended being an obsession and is almost a love affair with wanting to learn and do more. I am like a sponge, anxiously waiting to be submerged in knowledge to soak up. When most would be sleeping and dreaming in the middle of the night, I would be awake reading, doing practice problems, sketching my ideas, preparing for my future, and making my dreams a reality by putting in that extra work. This leads me to one of my favorite motivational quotes by the legendary Soichiro Honda, founder and former president of Honda Motor Company:

“Many people dream of success. Success can be achieved only through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success represents one percent of your work, which results only from the 99 percent that is called failure.”

I, personally, have failed numerous times in my life—so much so that it’s now a normal occurrence—but I don’t consider those failures to be losses as I have always learned from them. When you’re driven by passion and dreams, every day is a blessing and an opportunity to bring those goals to fruition.

I love anything that has wheels and is motorized. When my mind starts racing and I imagine what could possibly be, it inspires me to learn and do more. I love that I can let my mind run free, get my hands dirty, and apply the principles of math and science to create things that pull on my knowledge, experience, and creativity. That feeling is what drives me.

When sleep started becoming an inconvenience because it took time away from pursuing my goals, I knew I had fallen in love with engineering. By following my dreams and embracing my curiosity, I know that my passion for learning will fuel my future and allow me to reach the pinnacle of what I am capable of in my career. I accept the challenges and risks because when you’re passionate about something, you can’t go wrong!

I prepare myself today to live for a better tomorrow. “Si Se Puede!” (Yes, you can!) is what I tell myself every day in the morning after I wake up. If I am alive and able to get out of bed, then everything else after that is definitely possible. I can’t wait to wake up one morning knowing that I have achieved what was once thought to be impossible. Until then, “Si Se Puede!” You always have to start by believing in yourself. Being passionate about something is only the beginning; executing and planning to achieve your goals is where it all comes together. Embrace those late nights, hard work, risks, and bold, curiosity-driven undertakings as it’ll all be worth it!

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

As a student, I realize that we are a representation of those who we learn from. I have many amazing and profound people to thank, but the list will go on and on. I want to let everybody know that I couldn’t have ever done this alone! To all the professors, instructors, faculty/staff, lab attendants, Math Learning Center tutors, students, study partners, and to my family, friends, and mentors, I want to say THANK YOU for always being there for me, helping me, and believing in me! I would like to recognize specifically:

  • Yanet Garcia, (STEM)2 program director a.k.a. “The STEM Queen” for her continued support, dedication, mentorship, counseling, supervision, and the plentiful opportunities that she has provided, not only for me but for the entire (STEM)2 Program, its scholars, and the entire SEM Division. She has influenced my life in the most positive way, and I am grateful as she always leads by example and has been a person I look up to and admire! Her commitment to all the students is everlasting, and I owe much of my successes to her and the (STEM)2 Program.

  • The (STEM)2 Program, Yanet and “Responsible” Rosa Mejia, SEM Dean Richard Fee, the STEM counselors and peer mentors, STEM “Salad” Secretaries Julie and Susan for their vibrant personalities, Louie (our STEM mascot), and all STEM Scholars for helping me grow professionally, academically, spiritually, and mentally. Thank you for the workshops, club events, university trips, guest speakers, internship and summer research opportunities, scholarships, and the book loan program that has guided and helped me along this educational journey. Thank you all for showing me that when we STEM majors stick together, we can accomplish anything and have fun doing it!

  • Professor Nusbaum, for demonstrating how math is an art where every step of the process plays an essential role. When a class changes you as a person, you know the professor has made a significant impression on you. Professor Nusbaum has taught me to take pride in my work, be detail-oriented and not omit any steps in a process, and carry myself with integrity, humbleness, and resilience. Thank you for believing in me. I am honored to have been your student and your Math 150B (Calculus II) supplemental instruction leader.

  • Michael Klyde, for helping and guiding me since the beginning of my time at Cypress College. He was the first person to notify me and make me aware of internships, scholarships, and other higher education opportunities. He always believed in me and wanted more for me, and is one of the primary reasons why I became more heavily involved in school and in my studies. He’s not only an instructor, but a person I can call my friend; he has been there since day one and continues to push me to keep moving forward.

I would also like to give a shout out to:

  • Jane Jepson for shedding light on my future and leading me down the correct educational path for me;

  • Professors Hoa Tran, Garet Hill, and Christina Plett for the fun math adventures;

  • Professors John D. Alexander, Michael Beard, Marty Orozco, and Don Blanchard for helping me develop into being a proud professional in the automotive industry and for teaching me lifelong lessons, skills, and techniques for becoming a successful technician;

  • Professor Obed Silva for showing me my true passion for writing and how to have fun with it, and for being an example to always do better;

  • Professor Regina Rhymes for supporting my club and being our advisor of Leaders of Tomorrow. Thank you for sharing your positive energy and experience with us; and

  • Professor Brian Shotwell, for being my supportive “tension in the rope” and acknowledging all my hard work and efforts during his fun and interactive physics class.

  • What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?
    With under a six percent chance of being admitted as a transfer student majoring in mechanical engineering, I am proud and humbled to say that I’ve been accepted and will be transferring to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo! Ten years since graduating high school, a career change, and 225.5 completed units later, my educational journey has truly been a dream come true! Thinking back, I never pictured myself going to college and making it this far, but that’s what excites me; I am doing things that I never thought I could do. I plan on taking a cross-country road trip in my own race car to explore and embrace this milestone of mine with the car that I built during my time here at Cypress College. I will visit landmarks and attend many baseball games, reflecting on how far I’ve come, reminiscing on the years, and remembering to always keep moving forward.

    Using the abundance of knowledge and skills that I’ve learned and gained here at Cypress College, largely through the automotive T-TEN and (STEM)2 programs, I’ll be networking and making vital connections with industry professionals to obtain internships and summer research opportunities once I transfer to better prepare myself for the future; the difference is all in the preparation. I plan on joining Cal Poly’s Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team to further gain hands-on experience and be able to build what my mind and thoughts create. I consider myself a “doer” and know the true value of my education doesn’t come from what I’ve memorized or the exams I’ve passed, but from what I do with what I’ve learned. Knowing that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s philosophy is “Learn by Doing” is how I know I’ll thrive. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

    What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

    My goals are to graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo knowing that I used the tools that I gathered here at Cypress College to take full advantage of the opportunities available there and to find out what I am capable of and see how I can contribute to be of service to others. As Cypress College Astronomy Professor Michael Frey once commented, “Be an advantage for those who are at a disadvantage.” The circle of life of helping one another will help us all. I aspire to be an inspiration to others. In science we trust, and we must trust to always keep moving forward for the better!

    Our strengths don’t come from being the best, but from bringing out the best in one another. Together we are strong while divided, just like in math, we will only be a portion of who we can really be. I am here to help. I will be doing what I can to contribute toward evolving and becoming a well-rounded individual. Bringing in the Latino Heat and not just breaking the stereotypes but incinerating them, along with my unique and diverse experiences will convey a whole new perspective into how we do things. I don’t plan on building any walls but I do plan on helping you all build the best version of yourselves. Some call me crazy, but I think it’s crazy to not follow one’s dreams.

    What are you most proud of?

    I’m proud of how far I’ve come on this educational journey. Being a first-generation college student has definitely been a challenge filled with lack of direction and support, and feeling lost and scared. My time here at Cypress College has changed my life because I stayed true to myself and built myself up through my struggles and failures. I’m definitely not the same person I was when I first started attending Cypress College. I’m graduating as a proud, confident, determined, persistent, positive leader who knows that I have the ability to make this world a better place. I’ve realized that I’m not alone on this voyage to become an engineer and have evolved completely as a person. I couldn’t have done it without the guidance of faculty, staff, and the (STEM)2 Program, as well as support from my family, friends, and fellow students who all believed in me. The plethora of opportunities that I’ve encountered because of Cypress College have been the catalyst of growth and giving back.

    Being the type of person that will always give more than what I receive, I contributed to the College by advocating for and sharing my story about my experiences at Cypress College for the construction of the new Science Engineering and Mathematics building. I spoke in front of the North Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees and told them that I never saw myself going to college, that it was something my family had never done before. But knowing I had the power to make a change and further my education at the College, I never looked back and it’s been the best decision of my life. Investing in education is an investment for all mankind. I expressed how the Board has the power to affect every student that comes after me to be exposed to better educational experiences and they shouldn’t limit anybody having a better tomorrow. Proudly, I received a standing ovation from everybody in the room and got praised for staying persistent in my studies. I received the nickname “SEM Savior” by Cypress College President Dr. Bob Simpson, and the Board unanimously voted in favor for the new building right after my speech.

    I may be the first one in my family to pursue a college degree, but I know I won’t be the last! I want every future generation to be better than the one before. I’m proud to have paved the way, not only for myself, but for my family and for future students to believe in themselves and to always remember to give back. Some have called me a role model, someone that they can look up to. I leave Cypress College with a legacy of being a student who came, dreamed, studied, helped, and ultimately succeeded in making a change for the better! I’m beyond proud to call myself a Cypress Charger. This place has been my second home, where I’ve flourished and become someone who now has the confidence to make a valuable impact anywhere I go. I’ll forever be #CYProud! Thank You.

    What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

    I would tell them that they are not alone. Everyone around you is also struggling, and those who have struggled the most are usually willing to help out the most. I am one of those people. You won’t ever be the first person to face these challenges and you won’t be the last, so while you’re in need, all you have to do is ask. Don’t be afraid or view asking for help as a weakness. It’s actually a sign of strength to know you need help and are willing to admit it. I would recommend getting involved in a collaborative learning environment that leads to active participation, asking questions, and being with fellow students so that no one struggles alone.

    The first step to addressing any problem is confirming that there is a problem. Keep your head up, your mind open, give someone your full attention, and be ready to seek and ask for help as that will benefit you greatly. With that being said, we can’t help everyone, but everyone can help at least one other person, so always be willing to help others, too.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    Work hard and get involved! Something beautiful happens when you start applying yourself as that’s when you start growing out of your comfort zone. Three words that I live by are accept, adapt, and overcome. You must embrace change and never be afraid of it. As the legendary Michael Jackson said: “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” Go out and join programs and clubs; attend school events and workshops; apply for internships, scholarships, and summer research experiences. Doing all these things is how you’ll learn what you do and don’t like. Take the risks; nobody is going to do it for you. Always do things with integrity and purpose, and don’t take your time here at Cypress College for granted. Anything is possible as long as you keep trying. There’s beauty in the struggle, and I’ve seen a lot of beauty after all of my failures. Nothing is more satisfying than achieving and feeling proud knowing that you didn’t give up!

    I may have taken a longer route than others, but I am the first in my family to embark on this educational pathway where I’ve worked multiple jobs, gotten involved on campus, was a leader to fellow students and I was still able to achieve academically. We are here in the land of opportunity, so no matter where we go, one thing is for sure, don’t quit until you get to your destination and be forever grateful for those who help you. Show everybody that we can make it and that it doesn’t matter which path you take as long as you get to where you want to be! Hard work forever pays off, so keep on charging, fellow Cypress Chargers!

    -Junnior “Si Se Puede” Rodriguez

    Posted in CY

    #CYProud: Evan Sue, Chemistry

    Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

    Evan Sue
    Cypress + Chapman

    Sue is a chemistry major transferring to Chapman University following his graduation from Cypress College. He represented the College as a student ambassador, and was involved in a number of programs and clubs, including the Honors and (STEM)2 programs. Sue hopes to pursue lab research on alternative fuels and clean energy, or medicine.

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    Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

    My name is Evan Sue. I grew up in Cerritos, CA, and I attended Cerritos High School. Some of my interests are reading, biking to the beach, playing video games, music, backpacking, and last but not least, chemistry.

    Why did you choose Cypress College?

    As a senior in high school, my plan was to go to a university like all my friends. After not receiving acceptances from some of the universities that I would have liked, I wondered if there was still a way to go to these dream universities. That’s when I heard about Cypress College and their amazing transfer rates. It also helped that I live 10 minutes from campus.

    What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

    While I was at Cypress College, I was involved in the Honors Program and Honors Club, the Chemistry Club, the (STEM)2 Program, the Student Ambassador Program, the Cypress College Jazz Band, and the Applied Music Program. I was involved in a lot, and I believe it has made me a well-rounded student. By being involved in so many activities, I was able to create a personalized education for myself, which I really enjoyed.

    The Honors program gave me a small classroom setting and challenged me to think critically; the (STEM)2 Program helped motivate me by showing me the endless opportunities I can receive with my STEM degree; the Jazz Band and Applied Music Program made me a better musician, both in group and solo performances. Also, while I was a Student Ambassador, I had the chance to help guide students through their first steps in enrolling at Cypress College and starting their educational journeys. Through all of this, I have created many strong friendships and learned that the word “community” in community college represents the close group of peers and faculty that helped, supported, and believed in me.

    What are you most passionate about? Why?

    I am very passionate about helping people. I have been this way from a very young age, starting with my time in the Boy Scouts. I am an Eagle Scout, and I loved all the community service work I had the opportunity to do. Even though I am no longer involved with the Scouts, I still volunteer my time to help others through my church. This is my passion because I can see that society needs people to step up and help the less fortunate. I may not have a lot of money, but I have more than enough time to spare.

    This passion led me to choose chemistry as my major, because I love science and I want to use science to help others. While I do not have a specific field of interest, I hope that my degree allows me to achieve this goal either indirectly by researching alternative fuels and clean energy or creating more biodegradable plastics, or directly by researching a cure for cancer.

    Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

    During my two years at Cypress, I have had a lot of faculty and professors help me along the way. I would like to thank:

    • Professor Kathryn Sonne, the Honors Program coordinator, and Penny Gabourie, the Honors Program counselor. Without them, I would have never had the opportunity to be a part of the Honors Program, which I really enjoyed. They also helped me choose classes, answered my questions, and made sure I got all of my transfer requirements completed.

    • Yanet Garcia and all of the (STEM)2 staff. Without them, I would have never had the chance to meet professionals in various scientific fields and been exposed to the many opportunities available to me after I earn my degree.

    • Gary Gopar, the Cypress College Jazz Band director. I loved playing the trumpet in his band; it was a great way to relieve the stress of the day. I learned many different musical styles from him, and he helped me become a better musician.

    • Professor Torri Draganov, my General Chemistry II professor, and Professor Anthony Hollow, my Organic Chemistry II lab instructor. They were both amazing professors and were always available to answer my questions, both during and after class (even when the class would end at 10:00 p.m.). They both cemented my interest in chemistry, giving me the confidence to pursue my passion.

    • Lark Crumpler, the Student Ambassador supervisor. Her cheerful mood always made my day, and through the Student Ambassador program I have made amazing friendships and memories.

    • Professor Bryan Seiling, one of my first professors at Cypress College. His U.S. History I course was one of the best general education courses I have ever taken. He is a great lecturer, funny, and great at explaining the content. He showed me that classes can actually be fun, something I am very grateful for.

    What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

    After completing my studies at Cypress College, I will be transferring to Chapman University to continue my education and earn my bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

    What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

    For my long-term educational goals, I plan to earn a master’s degree and then eventually a Ph.D. I aspire to work in a research lab.

    What are you most proud of?

    I am most proud of how far I’ve grown during my two years at Cypress College. I was pushed, challenged, and worked harder than I have ever had to in my entire life. I have had a very well-rounded education, and this has given me not only a wealth of knowledge, but an even greater work ethic, a plethora of skills, and many great memories.

    What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

    Study hard, go to class, make some new friends, and don’t be afraid to try something new. You’ll learn a lot during your time at Cypress College, not only academic knowledge, but life skills as well: work ethics, communication skills, leadership, and organization to name a few.

    Also, go to your professor’s office hours! They will love meeting you and answering any and all questions you have.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    I would like to say thank you to all the friends and faculty that have pushed and motivated me to get where I am today. Cypress College is more than a place, it is my home, and I will never forget it.

    Posted in CY

    #CYProud: Anna Rodriguez, Classical Studies

    Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

    Anna Rodriguez
    Cypress + Cal

    Rodriguez is a history major transferring to the University of California, Berkeley following her graduation from Cypress College. She persevered in her education despite falling ill during her senior year in high school, and has been part of the Honors Program at Cypress College, representing the College at the Honors Transfer Council of California’s Annual Student Research conference. She has a passion for learning and is interested in a wide variety of fields in the social sciences, humanities, arts, and sciences. She will major in classical studies at Cal.

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    Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

    I’ve actually lived in Cypress my whole life! I graduated from Cornelia Connelly School in 2014 with over a 4.0, but during my senior year I started getting really sick. I went off to school at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but I left after my first quarter because my health started to deteriorate. I decided to start at Cypress, which is something I had never imagined myself doing before. That decision turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever could have made. Over the years, my health has gotten better along with my outlook on life! Being at Cypress was the unexpected experience in my life that has made all the difference.

    Why did you choose Cypress College?

    I chose Cypress College because it’s close to home and because I knew it was a great school with many opportunities!

    What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

    When I first got to Cypress College, I was pretty confused. I hadn’t had orientation, I signed up for classes really late, and I didn’t even know community colleges had majors.

    That first semester, I had signed up for an honors class because it had room. The next semester, I took a few more honors classes and found out about the Honors Program. Joining the program has been an integral part of my time here. It’s an amazing program that really encourages students and helps them achieve great things.

    I represented Cypress College this year at the Honors Transfer Council of California’s 18th Annual Student Research for California Community Colleges at the University of California, Irvine! It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about conducting humanities research and presenting. My presentation was on the role of women in ancient Rome as revealed through original Latin texts. For the project, I compiled primary sources written in Latin and translated them into English, then used that evidence to form an analysis and summary of the lives of these women.

    Most of my time here was spent taking different classes and preparing to transfer. I’ve also been quite involved in the art program at Cypress College, having taken three painting classes, pottery, and digital painting. The art program here is great, and I’ve learned so much from all my teachers. I’ve also had the opportunity to show some of my pieces in the annual student art show and in a few publications across campus!

    What are you most passionate about? Why?

    I’m most passionate about learning! I love school and I wish I could study and be a full-time student for the rest of my life! It’s really hard for me to pin down exactly what I’m most passionate about. I love the Classics, and will be studying that at Berkeley. I love the field because it combines so many interesting things, my love for Latin, history, philosophy, art, religion, politics, and so much more!

    I’m also really passionate about astronomy/space exploration and art. I’m a huge Star Trek nerd, so naturally, I love space! This year, I participated in the online segment of the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program (NCAS). It was exciting to learn from people at NASA about space exploration, astronomy, physics, and the future of science and technology. I will also be going to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for an on-site workshop!

    Art has also always been a big part of my life. I’ve taken painting here with Paul Paiement as a beginning, intermediate, and advanced student. I feel like I’ve learned and grown so much as an artist, and my teachers here definitely helped a lot. For me, art is almost like an escape. It’s extremely difficult, but I like a good challenge, and it offers me an opportunity to become 100% focused for a few hours and block out everything else in the world. It’s also pretty exciting to see something you’ve worked on for months up in a gallery!

    Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

    There have been so many amazing teachers here at Cypress College that have really helped me along the way! I’ve had a few teachers, like Professors Nicole Ledesma and Paul Paiement, who I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken multiple classes with.

    Professor Ledesma was an amazing professor to have! I was so stressed and anxious about having to take math, but she made the classes I took with her great. I actually ended up enjoying statistics, which is another thing I never thought would happen! I know for sure if it wasn’t for her, I definitely wouldn’t have learned so much, enjoyed the subject so much, or have done as well as I did.

    Professor Paiement has also been an amazing professor I’ve been lucky enough to have here at Cypress. I’ve taken art classes before, but he was the first teacher I’ve ever had where I truly felt like I was learning. He’s helped me so much as an artist, and I feel that I’ve gotten much better as a painter during my time here. He’s been very encouraging, but I also feel like he has challenged me a lot and driven me to be a much better artist and to not just settle.

    Another of my favorite professors is History Professor Bryan Seiling. I loved his class so much. While it was difficult, he really made the class interesting. He has a great personality and sense of humor, and is clearly passionate about history.

    Ms. Penny Gabourie has also been such an integral part of my time here at Cypress! She is an amazing counselor and has helped me so much with figuring out the transfer process. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it without her, and I am so thankful for all she has done for me!

    What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

    In the beginning of June, I will be participating in an on-site program at NASA’s JPL which I’m really excited about!

    In the fall, I will be starting my studies at the University of California, Berkeley in classical civilizations. There are a number of organizations I would like to get involved in there, and I would love to continue the research project I started while here at Cypress!

    What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?
    For now, my long-term goals are to do well in school at Berkeley and to be happy. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do after I graduate, but I’m planning to pursue a master’s degree and perhaps a doctorate, depending on what I decide to go into. There are so many things that I am passionate about and would love to spend my life doing. Right now, I’m content with the unknown. I’m looking forward to learning as much as possible at Berkeley and beyond.

    Aside from education, I would love to travel as much as possible and learn as many languages as I can. I want to explore every corner of the world and learn about the cultures and histories of each unique place. I’d also really like to go to space when space-tourism takes off! I also want to become the world’s leading historian in something really obscure and be interviewed as an expert for a History Channel documentary.

    What are you most proud of?

    I’m most proud of myself! I’ve faced a lot of setbacks in my life and the last few years have been anything but easy. I’ve worked though being sick and recovering. I was diagnosed with two learning disabilities (dyslexia and dysgraphia) that I didn’t know I had until a year ago. I’ve achieved all that I have while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

    I’m really proud of how far I’ve come and how much I have overcome in the past few years. So much has been thrown at me, and I’ve constantly been recalibrating my course of life. It’s been quite difficult, but I’m so proud of all the hard work I’ve put into it all and everything that has come out of it!

    What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

    Try your hardest in everything you do, no matter how trivial you think it is. Everything you do is a reflection of yourself and your values.

    Also, talk to your teachers outside of class whenever you can! They love talking to their students and you can get a lot of learning done in a small amount of time when you talk with them one on one. Even if all you have is a few moments after class, ask them a question. It doesn’t even have to be on the topic/subject they are teaching. I think it’s always a good idea to ask people who are learned in any subject their opinions on things because they can offer you a unique and educated perspective.

    One of the best things you can do as a student is connect what you learn in different subjects together with things in life. It makes subjects more relevant and interesting, and your education becomes strung together like a web. You may be surprised about how what you learn in one class may be so helpful for what you learn in another!

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    I’d just really like to thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. There are so many people who have helped me so much, and I can never thank them enough!

    Posted in CY

    #CYProud: Katherine Gendron, Anthropology

    Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

    Katherine Gendron
    Cypress + CSUDH

    Gendron is an anthropology major transferring to Cal State Dominguez Hills following her graduation from Cypress College. She has dreamed of being an anthropologist working in cultural and historical preservation since she was a child, and one day hopes to work on a team searching for the lost city of Atlantis. She also aspires to become the curator of the British Museum.

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    Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

    I was born and raised in Lakewood, CA. I attended and graduated from Sky Mountain Charter School in 2014, all the while volunteering at Ralph B. Clark Interpretive Center, which sparked my love of anthropology and understanding where our societies come from. I volunteered with the Long Beach Junior Golf Association for many years. Currently, I am working for the Disney Corporation in Anaheim and in the fall, I will be furthering my education at Cal State Dominguez Hills, majoring in anthropology with an emphasis in archeology.

    Why did you choose Cypress College?

    The flexibility of working my schedule around my jobs was very appealing. I also found professors who shared my love for anthropology and would continue to mentor and support my academic choices and future goals. The campus is very accessible, and the price-per-unit enabled me to attend full time while working two jobs.

    What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

    Throughout my time at Cypress College, I continued to be on the Dean’s Honor Roll and became a member of the Anthropology Circle. I knew what I wanted my path to be and the professors at the College helped guide and support me to achieve my goals.

    What are you most passionate about? Why?

    I am most passionate about being the first child in my family to receive a college degree and continue my education at a higher level, as my family was unable to do so financially. I am also very excited to pursue a life-long dream of being an anthropologist and seeing, preserving, and saving historical cultures throughout the world.

    Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

    There are two faculty members that I would like to highlight:

    Professor Becky Floyd, to whom I owe my sincere gratitude for pushing me to continue my studies in the field of anthropology. She was my mentor and always open to helping to guide me through the choices of the field. She is a bright, energetic, and positive teacher and role model.

    Professor Craig Goralski, who made classes fun, educational, and interesting, but continued to be stern regarding completing assignments, reading the material, and being prepared for exams and quizzes. He also encouraged us to be more responsible and respectful about historical and contemporary cultures.

    What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

    I will continue my education at Cal State Dominguez Hills with a major in anthropology and minor in archeology. I will be continuing and pursuing a dream that I have had for 17 years.

    What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

    My long-term goals are to help build people’s understanding and knowledge of cultural history before they are lost forever. I would also like to work with the team searching for the Lost City of Atlantis. It is also my dream to work for and become the curator of the British Museum

    What are you most proud of?

    I am most proud of completing the first step of my educational and career goals with the help, support, and love of my family. I am very proud of the fact that I completed this part of my education while working two jobs.

    What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

    I would advise future students to be patient and honest. Never give up on your dream of completing your education, no matter what life throws at you.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    I would like to express my utmost gratitude to all of the staff at Cypress College making my two years here very enjoyable.

    Posted in CY

    #CYProud: Fernando Barboza, Political Science

    Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

    Fernando Barboza
    Cypress + UCLA

    Barboza is a political science major transferring to UCLA following his graduation from Cypress College. He is an honors student and represents the College as a Student Ambassador, sharing this educational journey with potential students. He is deeply passionate about politics, and hopes to pursue a jurisdoctorate after obtaining his bachelor’s degree.

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    Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

    “Mijo, felicidades! Son, congratulations,” my grandparents enthusiastically exclaimed with pride. It was supposed to be the best day of my life: finally graduating high school. Everywhere I looked, I saw joy, jubilance, and happiness. Yet, I felt disappointed and ashamed of myself, barely meeting graduation requirements and obtaining a grade point average of just 2.4. I simply felt I did not belong, so there was obviously much challenge. Therefore, I buried myself in a hole of fear and self-doubt.

    Despite this, I transformed my life at Cypress College. I climbed out of the hole with my head held high and took initiative. All of a sudden, I was academically successful. I was getting the highest score on exams, straight A’s, and constantly participating in class discussion — something I had not done in high school. Furthermore, I gained a deep desire and passion for learning and fell in love with all aspects of political science. This led to a deep urge to consistently inform myself of different branches of politics by reading scholarly articles on topics ranging from the comparison of political economic theories to the externalities in foreign affairs. This is part of my personal insight question, but this perfectly depicts my life, my journey, and my story.

    Why did you choose Cypress College?

    I live in Artesia, California. What I am trying to say is that Cerritos College is really close by. I tried to talk to a college counselor there, and as a result, I visited Cerritos College on multiple occasions. It was always the same thing—the counselors were unavailable and I was always left confused. One day, my mom, a graduate of the Cypress College Psychiatric Technician Program, decided to give me a tour of the College. As I strolled through campus, I fell in love with the pond, the architecture, and the friendliness of the staff. Every time I visited campus, I always felt at home; the vibe just felt right. That’s the story of why I chose Cypress College.

    What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

    During my journey at Cypress College, I have been involved in the Honors Club, Student Ambassador Program, and the Multicultural Club. The majority of the time, I have been involved with the Student Ambassadors.

    As a student ambassador, I represent Cypress College at college and high school fairs, and give tours to prospective high school students. I also answer questions that students or prospective students may have about certain programs, resources, or any other offerings at Cypress College. One of the things that I love about being a Student Ambassador is that I am able to have direct contact with students who may be lost because I was once in their shoes. As a person, a student, and a Student Ambassador, I share my story with students, not so they can feel pity for me, but to exemplify that anything is possible.

    What are you most passionate about? Why?

    It is notable that my deep-burning passion is politics. I always find myself reading articles and talking to individuals about contemporary politics. I just find it extremely intriguing. When I am bored, you can always find me reading articles that have to do with politics, such as Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” or any political articles. Another reason why I find politics so interesting is due to the political culture in the United States. What I have found is that citizens are usually misinformed or unaware of political ideologies, key political issues, and how money plays a huge role in all levels of government. This has all sparked my curiosity in politics.

    Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

    There are many faculty and staff that helped me get where I am. First, my EOPS counselors Alan Reza and Lisa Blod. They both helped put together my academic planner, and if it were not for them, I would not have received my second associate degree in liberal arts with an emphasis in social and behavioral sciences. I also have to acknowledge my political science professors Gloria Badal and Peter Mathews, who helped me fall in love with politics. Professor Badal’s international relations class particularly inspired me to pursue international relations as a concentration in my major at UCLA.

    Furthermore, my English professors Christopher Kennison, Nicolas Gil, and Kendyl Palmer pushed me to develop my writing skills. Thus, I now see writing as a work of art. I also cannot forget to mention my music professor Gary Gopar. Professor Gopar has played an instrumental part in my life. His expertise in the jazz genre has made me love jazz and appreciate it with all my heart.

    All these professors helped me get where I am today, but I cannot forget to mention the wonderful Lark Crumpler. She was the person who interviewed and hired me for the Student Ambassador Program. The program has me helped grow, learn, and aspire. In addition, all of my fellow student ambassadors are my home away from home. I want to again thank Ms. Crumpler and everyone else that I have mentioned.

    What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

    My immediate plan is to arrange my academic courses for each quarter at UCLA. After that, I plan to enroll in the Center for American Politics and Policy Program (CAPPP) at UCLA. Once enrolled, I will be able to acquire a political or legal internship while taking courses at the University of California, Washington Center (UCDC). In other words, I will be studying and working on an internship for one quarter in Washington, D.C. Following that, I will join clubs at UCLA such as the Pre-Law Transfer Society and the Latinx Pre-Law Association so I can inform myself about the process of applying to law school. Ultimately, I plan to obtain my bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in international relations, as well as a minor in philosophy.

    What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

    My long-term goals are eventually to obtain my juris doctor degree, pass the bar exam, and become an attorney of law. Furthermore, I dream of one day being able to give back to Cypress College by donating money to EOPS and the Political Science Department.

    What are you most proud of?

    I am most proud of our Cypress College Student Ambassador Program. The program plays a crucial role at Cypress College. You see, student ambassadors are the perfect “middlemen” between college students and administration. This is important because events such as graduation, Charger Experience, and Yom HaShoah would not have gone as smoothly without the presence of student ambassadors. Their hard work, perseverance, and integrity is always shown, and I am honored to be part of the program and more than proud of my fellow student ambassadors.

    What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

    The advice that I would give Cypress College students is learn how you study best. For example, when writing a paper, I have to stop, relax, and dance like the world is not watching to get myself in a creative mindset. On another note, if you plan to transfer, it is crucial to constantly check Assist.org, as well as to start a UC TAP (UC Transfer Admission Planner). Finally, my biggest advice is to be a student outside of the classroom. Attend events that Cypress College offers, such as plays, dances, and musical events. Your experience outside of the classroom is equal to or even greater than your academic experience.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    If you would have told me two years ago that I would be accepted to UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley, and that I would be deeply involved on campus with the Student Ambassador Program, I would have laughed because I would not have believed you. This shows how it is possible to transfer to your dream school.

    The last thing I would like to share is that it is an honor and privilege to be selected as a #CYProud student. I do not take this lightly. I wear this loud and proud, and if I had to do this all over again, I would choose Cypress College every time.

    Posted in CY

    #CYProud: Kimberly Worl, Mortuary Science

    Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

    Kimberly Worl
    Cypress + Mortuary Science

    Worl is a mortuary science major looking to become a funeral director and embalmer following her graduation from Cypress College. She is a top-15 scholarship recipient from Service Corporation International, the largest funeral service provider in the country, and the first Cypress College student to receive the scholarship. She recently passed the state exam for her funeral director license and will take the state exam for her embalming license this summer.

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    Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

    I grew up in south Orange County and attended high school in Mission Viejo. When I was little, I used to say I wanted to dig up bones, and most of the books I read came from the true crime section of the bookstore. My plans to pursue work in forensic anthropology came to a halt while attending Golden West College. I was elected president of Circle K and from there I met a funeral home owner through Kiwanis International. I learned that being a licensed embalmer could lead to a career at the coroner’s office. Something just tugged at me and the only thing I could think of was getting a job at a funeral home.

    I landed a six-nights-a-week on-call position, which entailed driving to a person’s location of death and transferring the deceased to the funeral home. During the day I worked a normal desk job and attended night classes. Soon, desk work became meaningless and I asked for a full-time position at the funeral home. I was very fortunate to have them sponsor my embalming apprenticeship, as well. Time flew by and I dedicated nine years to the profession before I finally got the courage to resign and dive into the rigorous Mortuary Science Program at Cypress College to obtain my degree.

    Why did you choose Cypress College?

    Cypress College is one of two schools in California that offers a Mortuary Science degree. The other school is located in Sacramento. Despite the fact that Cypress College was an obvious choice as far as distance is concerned, I fell in love with the campus while taking general education classes. Every single faculty member I have come in contact with is outstanding.

    What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

    The Mortuary Science Program is nothing like anything I have ever experienced. In order to be successful, you must be active. By being active, I mean showing up every day, being engaged in each lecture, and being supportive of your cohorts. It is truly a team effort and we all help each other throughout the process.

    I learned the hard way that sometimes your mind will get the best of you. I remember the first day of orientation, I was looking at the class load and thinking, “I can’t do this.” It hit me hard when I realized that I was my biggest obstacle. Since then, I have gained more confidence in myself, having faced what I had been putting off for all those years. I have so many opportunities that are opening up for me that I otherwise would not have had. I work hard, but I also owe my success to the amazing support system I have here. I just hope I can be an example to other students who are coming back after a long break. I want everyone to know, it is better late than never.

    What are you most passionate about? Why?

    I am absolutely passionate about the funeral service profession. It is an interesting line of work because it incorporates so many different aspects, including sociology, psychology, chemistry, anatomy, business, and law. There is never a dull moment. I know why I gravitated toward this career and it is not because I was curious about death as a child. It is because I live for helping others.

    Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

    First I want to recognize Armando Garcia, who is a partnership counselor at the Cypress College School of Continuing Education. If it was not for Armando, I would have been lost when I got back to school. He was the one who counseled me through Math Co-Lab, which put me on a fast path to get to where I needed to be to apply for the Mortuary Science Program. I am forever grateful for his help and encouragement.

    Second, I want to recognize the amazing faculty of the Mortuary Science Program:

    • Prof. Glenn Bower, for never letting your class be silent and always engaging us;

    • Lori Collins, for your care, patience, and encouragement in the embalming lab;

    • Dr. de la Cruz, for your uninhibited enthusiasm for chemistry and embalming;

    • Prof. Jolena Grande, for always keeping us on our toes and pushing us to do our best;

    • Prof. “Mac”, for your amazing talents in restorative art and for being my mentor; and

    • Stephen Nichols, for your tireless dedication to our success.

    What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

    I just passed the state written examination for my funeral director license. I plan on taking the written examination to obtain my embalming license this summer. My goal is to be working as a licensed funeral director and embalmer by August. I already have funeral homes reaching out to me about work after graduation. The funeral profession in California is a small corner of the world. Everyone knows everyone and Cypress College is the place to be for Mortuary Science. So many opportunities will open up for you here.

    What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

    I would like to continue my education to obtain a bachelor’s degree and eventually my master’s degree. I would love to go full circle and come back to Cypress College to teach in the Mortuary Science Program.

    What are you most proud of?

    I am honored to have been selected as a top-15 scholarship recipient for Service Corporation International, the largest funeral service provider in the U.S. Being in the top 15, I was flown to Houston, TX for a two-day event, one of which included three rounds of panel interviews. We were coached on our resumes and networked with over 30 SCI representatives, including recruiters to help place us in a funeral home after graduation. I am the first student from Cypress College to receive this scholarship, so it was a great feeling to be able to represent our school.

    What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

    Try not to compare yourself to others. Your success is your own. Go at your own pace. If you feel discouraged, reach out to a faculty member. Lastly, please ENJOY the process because it will be over before you know it!

    #CYProud: Amanda Nguyen, Biochemistry

    Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

    Amanda Nguyen
    Cypress + UCI

    Nguyen is a biochemistry major transferring to the University of California, Irvine following her graduation from Cypress College. She hopes to enter the medical field as a physician assistant and is passionate about working with non-profit organizations, where she has worked and volunteered at over the last eight years.

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    Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

    I’ve been living in Orange County and still plan to for the next few years. I guess you could say I don’t get out much, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing growing up because I was able to stay at home with my grandmother. At a young age, I started to care for her by reminding and assisting her with her medication, helping her with chores around the house, and assisting her in any other way I could. Over time, I realized that a career that incorporates human interaction, emotional support, and healthcare would be a perfect fit for me.

    Why did you choose Cypress College?

    I initially planned to attend a university after high school, but was only accepted to universities that would involve being away from home. Therefore, I decided to attend Cypress College due to personal and financial reasons.

    What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

    While an active member of the (STEM)2 Program, I was exposed to a handful of opportunities. I became a (STEM)2 Study Lounge Leader, (STEM)2 Study Lounge Coordinator, and STEM Club President. The aforementioned positions have allowed me to promote student involvement, prioritize student networking, and improve community support through events hosted both on and off campus. My leadership positions have given me the platform to encourage others to assist those in need, which helped unfold my path and my passion for a career in healthcare.

    What are you most passionate about? Why?

    I am most passionate about working with non-profit organizations that emphasize charitable, scientific, and educational purposes. I have been working with several non-profit organizations for the past eight years and believe that coming together to support a common cause and purpose truly helps remedy problems in our communities.

    Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

    There were times when I second guessed my major and career path, and wondered if I should continue as a science major. During those tough times, I confided in my mentors. Their patience and advice for me have helped get me where I am today. I would like to thank Yanet Garcia, Anella Aquino, Dr. Maryline Chemama, and Rosa Mejia. I have paid countless visits and the accumulated time I have spent with you all have given me the extra boost I needed to reach where I am today.

    What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

    During the summer, I plan to do research for eight weeks at Cal Poly Pomona, where I will examine the chemical degradation of lignin by synthesizing new vanadium catalysts in order to remove oxygen from biomass. I will also continue as an emergency department volunteer at St. Jude Medical Center. Afterward, I plan to attend the University of California, Irvine in hopes of finishing my undergraduate education.

    What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

    After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at UCI, I believe the degree will lead me closer to a secure and successful career as a physician assistant. Whether or not my plan unfolds the way I would like it to, I still plan to contribute to the community by helping people medically, emotionally, and physically.

    What are you most proud of?

    I am most proud of growing the STEM student organization to what it is today. I believe that as president, I have accommodated the needs of the student population by incorporating service and STEM in an engaging way.

    What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

    I would say to take advantage of the tutoring services, professors’ office hours, and especially make an effort to converse with your classmates. You may learn new study techniques that could benefit you in the classroom and improve your study habits overall.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had here at Cypress College. I will forever remember my professors, my advisors, and the friendships I have made here.

    Posted in CY