Filler 1A, take 1 My name is Maria Isabel Monje. My name is Jared Steel. My name is Esther Oni. My name is Carlos Valladares. My name is Heather. My name is Benjamin Kellogg. My name is Jenny Maique. My name is Jacob Ramirez. My name is Cindy Villalta. My name is Nestor Thomas Eli. My name is Diana Moreno. I came here actually after my first year. I went to MacArthur High School. Coming out of high school I was your average high school student. I was that high school senior who just wanted to go to the big name university just like everyone else. And I wasn’t actually going to go to community college, but my plan didn’t work out, and so I came here to North Lake Community College. Community College is not my first option. After high school I did not know how the system worked. Before even starting community college, I didn’t know what the path was. I was in a really tough situation. It was my first time here, I was like a little toddler learning how to walk. And my dad’s company went bankrupt because of the situation of my country. I really didn’t have anywhere to live, and then I went to live with this person that I was dating at the time. And then I had a son, and then he died after he was born. I lived in a living room and it was really difficult. I really was at that point in my life where I didn’t think I wanted to keep going on because I didn’t think it could get better. At first I didn’t want to come to a community college because everybody was saying that a community college wasn’t good for me. I thought it was for people who weren’t smart. I thought it was just for students who didn’t do so well in high school or students who really had no other option. I thought there’s a lot of dumb people. I thought there’s a lot of delinquents. I thought… …people who had no future for themselves. And it was a place where only the mediocre students went. The students who got really low GPAs or the weird kids at school. I felt like a mediocre human being. I thought, “Why am I coming here? What am I doing with my life? What is this?” I just fell into this stereotype that my peers gave me. I had the wrong perception of what community college was. The opinion didn’t come from me, but was actually given to me by my high school, unfortunately. I think there’s this preconceived notion about community college and this bad stigma against it or on top of it. There’s just these bad ideas about community college, and saying “Oh, you went to community college, that’s just high school. You’re not pushing yourself enough.” But it’s not true. It leads you into a transition period between high school and a university. Which is so crucial for people who are around the ages of 18. You can’t plant a seed and expect, the next morning, to go there and see a beautiful flower. You have to keep watering it and it has to grow. Which is what community college is for. This has opened so many more doors than I could have ever imagined. It gives you the experience and it gives you opportunities that are going to help you be more successful when you do transfer and move on with your education. It has given me the opportunity to build my résumé, to getting involved out of school Being involved in college actually makes the college experience much better. Rather than if you’re just taking classes. I was an officer for more than 4 clubs at times. I was very active. And always took every opportunity that was available to me. I joined Phi Theta Kappa which is a great honor society that has given me a lot of opportunities. It’s taught me a lot of leadership skills and organization and I’ve created contacts with very influential leaders in the community, such as Keep Irving Beautiful. In return, I was actually eligible to apply for a full ride scholarship, that the school only gives 2. And I actually won the scholarship even though I had not met every single requirement that was set on the scholarship. My favorite thing about community college, at North Lake in particular, is the professors, and the administration, staff that they have. All of the professors are super welcoming and ready to help you. They’ve been so helpful and they’ve believed in me and they’ve helped me believe in myself. And they know what they’re doing, and they have taught me a lot. Some professors here, they have PhDs. They could be teaching at Harvard or at SMU but they chose to be here because they truly care about the students. What I think now about community college is that there’s just a lot of ambitious and talented and very intelligent individuals. I think it’s the best option. I don’t know why people would never want to come to a community college. It’s cheap, for one. You save a lot of money. I’m coming out of my 2 years with $0 in debt. Community college is not for people who are just out of luck, or people who can’t go anywhere better. There are so many intelligent and ambitious people here who choose to come here because this is a smart place to be. This is where you want to come if you want to save money. Your friends will be carpooling to go a university and you have your car from saving a lot of money by coming to a community college. I’ve had so much leadership experience, volunteer experience growing experience, friendship experience. And I didn’t have to spend $20,000 or more a year to get that. What’s North Lake College to me? North Lake College to me is my second family. It’s my home away from home. One of the best choices I’ve ever made in my entire life. A second home. Awesome. Really freaking awesome. The smartest place. A place to grow. North Lake is a place to grow. North Lake is a home. It’s a family. And it’s a big place of encouragement.